Review: This is the End (2013)

Either you find these guys funny, or you don’t. The “comedy” doesn’t stretch beyond that.

I don’t get Saturday Night live humour. I don’t fully get the Judd Apatow / Seth Rogen style – and by that I mean: I enjoyed bits of Knocked Up, but thought This is 40 stretched itself – and my patience – too far, and that each subsequent project from any of them has made me feel more and more like Freaks & Geeks was a miracle).

This Is The End requires SO much buying into (a) their humour (b) their currency in pop culture, to make it work. I can see they had a great time making it, and it woulda been all kinds of funny for them. But there’s no actual comedy-making going on in this comedy film (as opposed to, say, in an Edgar Wright film).

Instead, the entirety of the “comedy” in this film resides in you finding humorous:

  1. the actors
  2. the actors’ personas
  3. the actors making eachother laugh
  4. feeling like yr hanging out with them.

I’m a “no” for all 4, so… I giggled at maybe two moments throughout (both involving Craig, who I just find funny. And that’s it: either you find these guys funny, or you don’t. The “comedy” doesn’t stretch beyond that – not the premise, nor the story, and especially not the schlocky aesthetic (it looks like they spent way too much money on what’s essentially a celeberity stoner home movie, and STILL only shelled out for embrassaingly cheap-looking VFX).

Not every film needs to be for everyone. Often genre films work better when they don’t try to be broad, and cult films are important for all sorts of reasons. I wish I could say “This film isn’t for me”, and leave it at that. But with This Is The End, I find an additional layer of… I don’t want to call it cynicism, but it’s not far off.

These guys clearly have access to so much Hollywood talent, and have so much good will with so many superstars, that better use should have been made of them / that. I get that often the joke is that they aren’t overused (see Brad Pitt’s blink-if-you-miss-it cameo in Being John Malkovich) <– but where that worked as a surprise (and a reveal of the hitherto-unknown director’s reach in Hollywood), this works in the opposite way: “We know so many people, we’ve so forgotten how to make something out of nothing that we’ve made nothing out of so very many somethings”. Even as someone willing to accept that I’m missing a lot here by simply not being a fan, to this point alone I say: Lame.

Perhaps it’s the fact that something like this can get made that is the joke – that it’s some kinda meta-commentary on itself? James Franco, at least, seems to think everything he does is just that.