Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s “This is the End” is like a buddy comedy that just doesn’t know when to quit. Oh, they try their hardest to shower the audience in scattershot jokes in hopes that some of them might land, and while they do find moderate success with perhaps one in ten of these jokes, that still leaves a whole mess of them that do nothing but fall flat on the floor. Something has gone wrong with these once-promising writers lately, something that can clearly be seen in their two previous disastrous projects “The Watch” and “The Green Hornet.” While “This is the End” is not quite as far down as these, it’s still very clear evidence of their continued decay.
The film begins as Jay Baruchel returns to Los Angeles to visit his good friend Seth Rogen. There’s not much to their plan except to hang out, smoke weed, and play video games. However, Seth recommends that they go and hang out with his buddy James Franco, who just happens to be throwing a party attended by Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and many others. Jay is a bit uncomfortable with the idea as he doesn’t particularly like these other people, but he still gives it a shot for Seth’s sake. Almost from the very start, Jay finds himself disliking the party, so under the excuse of going to buy cigarettes, he and Seth steal away for a few minutes.
In the middle of their debate about the party, the strangest events begin to occur. First, several blue lights appear from the sky and take people away. Afterward, it’s as though chaos has broken out across the city as fires rage and the ground begins cracking apart. In their panic, they manage to make it back inside Franco’s house where they, along with Franco, Hill, and Robinson, must face the very real possibility that the apocalypse has begun.
This in itself seems like a premise with multiple possibilities as to where it could be taken. These survivors could brave out into the unknown in an attempt to band together with other survivors, or fight the creatures that are ravaging the city, or try to find their loved ones. Alas, none of these things happen, and instead, they decide to stay in the house for most of the film arguing about food and water. As to why Goldberg and Rogen wouldn’t want to take full advantage of such a premise is quite mysterious. Perhaps they thought it would be the best template for their onslaught of dirty jokes?
Therein lies the second major problem the film faces. As I mentioned, they are obviously quite desperate to make it as funny as they possibly can what with an attempted joke seemingly taking place every few seconds, but unfortunately the level of humor they chose to pursue is so lowbrow that the jokes become more cringe-worthy than funny. Case in point: a stretched-out argument between Franco and Danny McBride regarding masturbation will merely have you squirming in your seat and questioning why they would think that anyone would find it funny.
As the film proceeds, the level of humor seemed to drop even further as they increased the volume of gross-out gags, which are merely more instances that will have you questioning the writers’ thought patterns. To be fair though, there are some jokes that actually do land somewhat well, but these are mainly the ones that they seemed to put a little effort into, or in some cases are simply self-referential. For example, the gang makes a homemade sequel to “Pineapple Express,” afterward suggesting that they don’t try to do so for “Your Highness,” a terrible film that even they seem to admit was so.
One of the other things that was a bit scattershot about the film were the cameos. As you may have noticed, I didn’t include any of the actors who played the roles, which is because all of the actors are playing versions of themselves. In some cases, this worked pretty well, such as some of the main characters and a quick cameo by Emma Watson, while others didn’t, such as an unfunny running gag involving Michael Cera. It was an interesting idea to have everyone play themselves, I just wish they had gone a little further with it by including more.
That’s actually a great way to summarize the film: an interesting idea, but they could have done so much more. Imagine how funny it could have been if they had actually put some thought into the humor instead of trying to appeal to the basest levels of comedy, and then imagine if they had actually done something with this story instead of simply confining their characters for the majority of the film. “This is the End” is merely a missed opportunity that goes down in the apocalyptic flames it creates.
Turning briefly to the specs, the film is presented in a 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer that's pretty much standard quality for a DVD. It's noticeably blurry in many spots, but it's still quite watchable. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio has no issues to report. Everything comes through loud and clear, even during the most chaotic sequences of the film.
Special features on the disc include the following:
- Commentary with Seth Rogen and Even Goldberg
- Directing Your Friends
- This is the Marketing
Starting with the commentary as always, co-writers/co-directors/co-producers Rogen and Goldberg don't really have much in the way of interesting material to discuss as they talk about the film. Fans may get a kick out of it when they joke with each other, but overall, it's not worth the time to listen to. Speaking of not being worth your time, the two featurettes included on the DVD are pretty pointless. The "Directing You Friends" featurette is about four minutes of Rogen and Goldberg talking about what it was like to work with their buddies, while "This is the Marketing" is a mix of promos, unfunny outtakes from marketing, and very brief interviews.
Overall, there's not much to recommend about this release at all. The extras don't tell you much of anything about the actual making of the film, while the film itself comes off as these guys trying desperately to be funny. If anything this was merely an excuse for these guys to get together, make a movie together, and get paid in the process. Some of these guys have real talent. Hopefully they'll get back to using it soon enough.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition, Redemption, A Letter to Three Wives, Disconnect, The Bling Ring, The Iceman, Star Trek: Enterprise - Season Two, Emperor, The Big Wedding, The Place Beyond the Pines, Oblivion
Now playing in theaters: A Single Shot, Blue Caprice, Jayne Mansfield's Car, Riddick, Hell Baby, Touchy Feely, Passion, The Lifeguard, Short Term 12, The Grandmaster, 2 Guns, Only God Forgives, Fruitvale Station, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University
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