Whilst at James Franco’s housewarming party, Seth Rogan and Jay Baruchel are suddenly faced with the apocalypse. Holed up in Franco’s house with a number of other celebrities, they must survive the fire and brimstone closing in on them as well as settle some personal differences.
If you’re not a fan of the specific brand of humour that Seth Rogan and his merry gang have largely built a career around, then there’s not a huge amount in This is the End that’s going to convince you to the contrary. However, for those who find nothing funnier than Seth and friends riffing of each other, then there’s plenty to enjoy.
In terms of the humour, we know pretty much exactly what we’re getting for most of the film. There’s plenty of the standard drug and dick jokes that raise a giggle the first few times but ultimately become a little stale and repetitive. There is also a fair few references to previous films the actors have appeared in, so if you aren’t well versed in their filmography, some jokes may go a little over your head.
Much of the humour, however, particularly in the first half of the film comes from the novelty that everyone is playing themselves, although usually twisted, over the top versions. The decision to do this is a masterstroke but sometimes comes across as a bit of self-congratulatory circle jerking. If they had played ‘proper’ characters then it would have lost a lot of its humour and arguably its largest USP, but there are times when the self parody goes so far that it just feels like they’re patting each other on the back and saying how awesome they all are.
There are some excellent interactions between some of them, however, with Danny McBride probably providing most of the laughs. He’s not afraid to send up most of his buddies, and an argument between him and James Franco over a ‘used’ porno magazine is disturbingly hilarious. Jonah Hill as an uber nicey nicey version of himself is also worth a few laughs although, like Seth Rogan, if you’re not a fan, there’s little here to change your opinion.
Having several other celeb cameos popping up throughout raises a fair few laughs and further adds to the novelty factor of the whole thing. Michael Cera as a coked up sex pest, for instance, is pretty funny, whilst Emma Watson’s feisty five minutes is also a highlight.
The second half of the film actually mixes things up a little, dispensing with the straight up comedy angle and actually becoming more of an action film. This change of pace really gives the film a bit of drive, stopping it from becoming too stale and gives some of the characters more of a sense of purpose. There are also a bunch of fun references to horror films, including Rosemary’s Baby, Ghostbusters and The Exorcist.
So, whilst This is The End is funny in places, it’s also pretty inconsistent and for large parts isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is. It relies a little too heavily on Seth Rogan’s tried and tested formula and feels a little too familiar in places, despite the setting. Having said that, when it’s funny, it’s very funny and for fans of Rogan et al, this could well prove to be one of this year’s funniest films.