THIS IS THE END is a ludicrously indulgent comedy made by the folks who brought you PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, and less impressively, SUPERBAD. It basically features a group of real life Hollywood actors and comedians - Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson - who are partying at Franco's house when the Apocalypse begins. The movie sees them whole up in house while the world goes to shit, until they're forced out to face their final judgement. The actors all play fictionalised versions of themselves, which allows screenwriters and directors Evan Goldberg and Rogen to satirise Hollywood excess and solipsism. I loved this opening act, with its sly in-jokes about the actors' box office failures and each actors' media persona. James Franco is game, allowing references to rumours that he's gay, although I thought the depiction of Michael Cera as a coke-head was just bizarre rather than actually funny. And even after they hole up in Franco's house, I liked the idea that these guys would have absolutely no survival skills, but would amuse themselves by Sweding a PINEAPPLE EXPRESS sequel.
The intellectual problem with THIS IS THE END is its hypocrisy. It's a movie that satirises the naval-gazing self-indulgence of Hollywood, but is itself something of an indulgent vanity project. One can only hope that the writers were aware of this, but I detected more self-congratulation that rapier-like wit in their puppyish joy at inflicting the Backstreet Boys on the audience. The more basic problem with THIS IS THE END is the uneven pacing and narrative drift that settles in when, well, the main characters settle in to Fort Franco. To be sure, the movie gets an adrenaline shot to the heart in a superbly executed cameos from a deranged Emma Watson (how much more piquant than the more obvious first casting choice of Mila Kunis!) and Channing Tatum in a gimp suit. But once the crew are holed up, there's literally not much to do other than bitch about how Danny McBride is selfishly eating all the food, and drawing straws for expeditions to forage for food. Oh, and a momentarily amusing but basically weak-ass EXORCIST spoof. The screenwriters have to clumsily force the crew outside just to bring the movie to a close, and the quite literal deus ex machina feels very weak and forced. For religious groups to be offended is laughable - it gives the film too much credit. I was far less offended by the notion that there's weed in heaven, than by having to listen to the Backstreet Boys.
So, THIS IS THE END is no SUPERBAD or YOUR HIGHNESS - offensive and puerile - nor is it THE GUILT TRIP - quite simply unfunny and tedious. It has its moments, and I certainly laughed out loud more than once. In fact, I still laugh out loud when I think of the word "gluten". But this is no instant cult classic a la PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, I can't help but wish that instead of this uneven film we'd had a genuine EXPRESS sequel with a properly honed script, characters I could fall in love with, and real narrative tension.
THIS IS THE END is on release in the USA, Canada, Jamaica and New Zealand. It opens on June 8th in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Vietnam. It opens on July 5th in Iceland, Portugal and Estonia; on July 18th in Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Uruguay; on August 1st in Greece; on August 8th in Croatia and Ecuador; on August 16th in Colombia; on August 22nd in Hungary, Israel and Austria and on August 29th in Germany and the Netherlands. It opens on September 5th in Slovakia and Slovenia; on September 11th in Egypt, France and Switzerland, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Syria, the UAE, Latvia, Poland, Romania, South Africa and Turkey; on September 18th in Belgium, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Russia, Serbia, Taiwan, Thailand, the Ukraine, Kenya, Lithuania, and Nigeria; on September 27th in Hong Kong, South Korea, Brazil, Bulgaria, Finland, and Norway. It opens in India on October 4th; in Sweden on October 25th; in Denmark on November 14th; in Chile on November 28th; in Venezuela on November 29th and in Peru on December 5th.
THIS IS THE END is rated R in the USA and has a running time of 107 minutes.