I can proudly admit I love a good ensemble film. Whether it’s action or comedy there is something enticing about seeing heavyweights in a genre come together for a film that seems epic just on a casting scale. The reason why they seem so appealing to the general public, and myself, is because A) we constantly imagine what would happen if all these major stars got in a room together; and B) we want to be there when it happens. It makes you feel like one big happy family.
“This is the End” directed, written and starring Seth Rogen (the former two done with his friend Evan Goldberg) brings audiences just that: A group of the funniest men in movies today trapped in a big house together, just, surviving an apocalypse.
The actors play themselves, the main cast including Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride. The film takes place during a party at Franco’s home, where a bevy of celebrities appear for cameos. Many of them are familiar faces in Apatow-related films like Jason Segal and Mindy Kaling. And though one by Harry Potter alum Emma Watson has been highly discussed, it is the comic genius of Michael Cera who takes the cake. He quickly sheds his awkward persona in light of a coked-out, drunk horndog whom everyone despises. There is a “Superbad” reunion that makes for one of the funniest scenes in the film.
However, just as the party gets good with my cameo cache full, sink holes appear, fire rains from the sky and all those celebrities go down in a gleeful display of mass destruction and violence. Not only is it done with humor but a surprising amount of doom-laden scope.
Soon the six that make up the principal cast are stuck in a house together as egos clash and hilarity ensues. Anyone who is a fan of any comedy these men have been a part of is set for an “Avengers” like comedy in that anything you desire will happen from immaturely handled moments of violence, homoerotic camaraderie, drug trips and masturbation jokes performed to perfection by men who could do it in their sleep.
But as said earlier this is a movie about a gang of stoners essentially hanging out as the world collapses. The best moments in any of these guys’ movies are the sequences of them just rattling off obviously improvised lines. Some of the biggest laughs were had during a night scene and some of the guys were scared of all the loud, demonic noises. One by one they pile together near a couch as Rogen and Hill try to position themselves against one another, Baruchel lying next to them awkwardly. Even a later, very vulgar and well-satired scene from “Rosemary’s Baby” can’t touch that.
Good comedy is more art than anything Terrance Malick could dream to do. We get it buddy, tress are pretty and you obviously are a very, very complex individual. What makes it better is that they do it as themselves, adding a layer of self-effacing humor that is just the cherry on top of the sundae…which is most likely melted…because it’s raining fire.
Though it has some insightful ideas about the true nature of celebrities none of it is too surprising or groundbreaking. When I see Franco and McBride arguing over masturbation ethics I didn’t realize the vanity or moral decay that is celebrity, I just saw two actors acting as they normally do in a film like this, and quite possibly in real life. That’s all good because that’s exactly how it should be in a film like this.
“This is the End” brings everything to the table that an ensemble comedy of this stature and stardom should, and with a grand sense of spectacle to boot. It’s funny throughout and never forgets the characters or situation at its center. Not bad for Rogen and Goldberg’s second movie where everything is on fire and in shambles…the first being “The Green Hornet” (que perfectly executed drum snares)