(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)
Greg, this is the beginning of our review of This Is the End.
As far as I’m concerned The End couldn’t come quickly enough.
Ouch! Let’s recap. This Is the End starts out with a Hollywood party hosted by actor James Franco and attended by many other young Hollywood talents out for a good time. The guests include Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Seth Rogen and Rogen’s out of town friend, Jay Baruchel. The party is interrupted by a series of bizarre, destructive events: Earthquakes, sinkholes, massive fires, and beams of light from the sky that swallow people up.
Our heroes quickly realize that this is the Rapture and they’ve been left behind. They are on a quest to stay alive, bunkered in Franco’s massive SoCal home. They take stock of their reserves (water, liquor, cereal and a Milky Way bar) only to find that other actors would like to take their stash (case in point Miss Emma Watson).
From there, our heroes must figure out what is going on and how to survive what seems to be a hopeless situation, as evil demons try to break into Franco’s home.
Greg, from your opening remarks, I get the sense you didn’t care for this film. I don’t blame you. This genre of movie rarely interests me. But, shockingly, I’m almost ashamed to say that I found myself enjoying this film. It was crude, vulgar, and disgusting — a middle-schooler’s dream, with much of the humor centering on body parts and bodily functions. To say that this movie is horrifically juvenile is an understatement. I probably lost a dozen IQ points watching this film, which may account for why I’m reporting that I liked it as much as I did.
Scott, I hated this movie for the very reasons you liked it. It was sophomoric, gross-out humor. That alone wasn’t enough for me to dislike the film. But it was another example (see Movie 43) of Hollywood’s self-referential, insider jokery. If you’re a friend of a friend of these actors, you’d probably think it was pretty witty. Or if you were a fan of Pineapple Express (the film that launched Seth Rogan’s and James Franco’s careers) you’d enjoy the inside jokes. As it was, the film is self-congratulatory, self-indulgent, and self-serving. I haven’t seen such an example of actors engaging in (what basically amounts to) home movies since the Cannonball Run movies where Burt Reynolds, Dom Deluise, and friends just let the cameras run and created a movie in the editing room. I was bored from the beginning to The End.
I totally get what you’re saying, Greg. Yet somehow, this movie won me over, and I’m not friends with these Hollywood elite at all. The film manages to overcome it’s absurd debauchery by being clever, creative, and amusing. There is some good writing here, even if it is self-referential and self-congratulatory. And underlying all the immature absurdity is a rather endearing buddy-hero story. Seth and Jay clearly share a bond, lose it, and then find a way to achieve redemption at the end. I liked that a lot.
The redemption, however, is a mockery of the classic hero’s story. They aren’t truly redeemed, they just put in the dialog and plot to make it happen at the last minute. But that’s fine – it’s a comedy after all. But the jokes are not even subtle. At one point Jonah Hill is raped by the devil (in an overt homage to Rosemary’s Baby) and then must be exorcised (ala The Exorcist). But the dialog is lifted directly out of the first movie and they even put a placard up proclaiming “The Exorcism of Jonah Hill.” It’s not original and it wasn’t funny.
Well, I’m not proud of the fact that I enjoyed this movie. This Is the End is a movie that I had no business liking but did anyway. It is saturated with puerile humor and silly, raunchy gags, but beneath the idiocy is an intelligent storyline that takes our two heroes on a journey of satisfying redemption.
This film is no threat to win any Academy Awards, but it made me laugh and gag and have a good time. I give This Is the End 3 Reels out of 5, and 3 Heroes out of 5.
Fair enough Scott. However I think that deep down you aren’t ashamed that you enjoyed this movie. I can’t recommend this movie to anyone other than hipster doofuses (and you may be a latent doofus at that). For an obvious swipe at the “Left Behind” series and insider humor, I give the film 1 Reel and 1 Hero. And 1 Reel to Scott for finding a way to use “puerile” in a sentence.