THIS IS THE END review by Mark Walters – this self-referential satire works surprisingly well

THIS IS THE END review by Mark Walters – this self-referential satire works surprisingly well


The new comedy THIS IS THE END is actually based on a short film titled JAY AND SETH VESUS THE APOCALYPSE made in 2007, which features Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel carrying out some end of the world antics. Where that film was pretty insular and small, THIS IS THE END goes way bigger. The cast includes Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Jason Segel, Kevin Hart, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Watson, David Krumholtz, Aziz Anzari, and others… all playing selfish and exaggerated versions of themselves.

The film opens with Rogen picking up Baruchel from the airport, and it’s explained that this is Baruchel’s first time back in L.A. after a year. The duo hang together and bond over video games and weed (and Carl’s Jr.), but eventually Seth suggests they go to a party at James Franco’s house. Jay doesn’t want to go, but agrees to anyway, and upon arriving we see the gathering is a veritable who’s who oF Hollywood talent. At one point Jay and Seth leave to get cigarettes, and very unexpectedly blue light shoots down from the sky and starts carrying people up, while chaos begins to unfold in quick fashion around them. They make it back to Franco’s house, but things get worse outside. Eventually the crew of Rogen, Franco, Baruchel, Robinson, Hill and McBride find themselves the only ones left in the home, and start questioning how long they can survive together while the world collapses around them. As days pass, friendships and loyalty are tested, truths come out, and as one might expect in a story like this, lives are lost.

In some regards THIS IS THE END could be considered a self-aware parody of the disaster films of the 1970’s, featuring a big cast of recognizable faces, and increasingly worse moments of peril leading up to a big finish. On the other hand it could easily be likened to satire like AIRPLANE or THE NAKED GUN films. At its core the production is a buddy comedy, or perhaps the deconstruction of the buddy comedy. It’s also a collection of several in-jokes and self-referential humor. To make a statement that those who aren’t familiar with these actors and their films won’t appreciate this flick is very fair to say. In many ways it reminded me of Kevin Smith’s JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (another film with stoner humor and jokes only fans of the stars would get), right down to the musical ending. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen co-directed and co-wrote the movie, marking the first time for both of them behind the camera, and the end result looks pretty top notch and high in production value. I found myself noticing how strong the visuals and scene set ups were, competently put together and tightly edited to keep things interesting. Even the few moments of CGI creatures are impressive, and look every bit as good as anything you’d see in a much more serious and bigger budget production.

The laughs are plentiful and well-timed, as one would expect with accomplished comedic actors like this. Even the self-depreciating jokes never seem excessive or terribly fabricated, giving us the sense these guys really opened themselves to the humorous aspects in an honest and unflinching way. There’s some rather raunchy humor in the production as well, but it also feeds into the honesty of the presentation. Rogen and Baruchel are, not surprisingly, the standout performances in the piece, not only getting the most screentime but also the strongest dialogue. Their portrayals of their stressed-out selves, while certainly exaggerated, do have layer of sincerity to them which adds to the final product. Some of the other actors are just having fun with their on-screen personalities. Jonah Hill comes off as a pandering kiss-ass that tries too hard, Craig Robinson plays a self-aware coward who reacts the most strongly to whatever scares are around, James Franco comes off as a delusional and spoiled Hollywood darling, and Danny McBride just goes for the insensitive glutton type. Some of these characterizations are familiar, while others are rather unexpected.

THIS IS THE END isn’t anything to be taken more than light-hearted adult entertainment for fans of these actors. If you like them and their movies, chances are you’ll like this. If you don’t like them or don’t know their work, it’s likely this will not appeal to you. But if you are in the right mindset and just want to have fun with these fellas for a few hours, this might just be one of the most entertaining experiences this summer… or at the very least a really amusing diversion.

THIS IS THE END opens June 14, 2013

Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.