To celebrate Inauguration Day, here's a review of the apocalyptic comedy This Is The End.
A group of popular Hollywood comedians gather for a party at James Franco's house. The Apocalypse happens. Michael Cera dies, and our heroes have to band together to try and survive the end of times.
Our main character is Jay Baruchal. He has come to LA to hang out with old friend Seth Rogen. Jay feels he is losing his best friend to that pretentious asshole James Franco. Seth convinces him to go to the party, which is where we meet the rest of our ensemble:
Jonah Hill plays an overly chipper, self-obsessed version of himself -- Jay is suspicious that it is just an act. Comedy MVP Craig Robinson is relatively sane by comparison, despite his predilection for drinking his own urine. The villain of the piece is Danny McBride. His descent from party animal to post-apocalyptic war lord is perfectly judged, and sums up the movie's overall vibe.
Despite the fact that it is a mainstream comedy, the movie (written and directed by Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg) doesn't stray from the darker aspects of their premise: people die, often in horrific ways; monsters stalk the chaos; and our heroes emerge as flawed people who as much a danger to themselves as each other.
The movie's been out for a while now, but I don't really want to give away spoilers.
There's a great homage to Rosemary's Baby, and plenty of celebrity cameos -- Michael Cera obliterates his squeaky clean image as a coke-n-sex freak; Channing Tatum is a sex slave; and Emma Watson has an axe.
For a debut, the direction is really good -- Rogen and Goldberg manage to balance the comic and the 'horror' elements pretty effectively. And while there is a bit of improv, the movie does not feel as bloated as most comedies post-Apatow.
This Is The End is a really good comedy, and a good start for Rogen and Goldberg as feature directors. With The Interview and Preacher on AMC, it is clear they are no flash in the pan.