Review – It’s The End of the World as We Know It… (“This is the End”)

Ya gotta hand it to Seth Rogan. He and Evan Goldberg wrote, produced, and directed this comic gem about the end of the world and made it look like they were having a blast doing it! Now, that’s the way to make a movie!

Getting together all his friends and an array of A-list TV and movie stars, Rogan & Goldberg weave a kooky, yet horrifically strange story that centers on Rogan’s best friend, Jay Baruchel (which is an inside joke of itself, since Jay is the LEAST known of all the main actors here!) who comes to L.A. for a visit. After a brief visit, they decide to go to James Franco’s elaborate concrete home (which is built like a fortress) in Hollywood for a huge party. There we see party-goer’s Craig Robinson, sweetheart-of-a-guy Jonah Hill, a coke’d-up Michael Cera, Rhianna, lovely Emma Watson, Jason Segel, David Krumholz, and a host of other real TV stars all playing themselves…or at least caricature of themselves.

Jay can’t stand the party and just wants to leave and hang with his best bud, Seth. But 15 minutes into the movie, the Rapture occurs! Yes! The world-wide apocalyptic event where all God’s righteous people are “beamed-up” to Heaven in a blinding blue light, just before a massive earthquake, raining fire, and terrifying sinkholes open up, swallowing up nearly everyone at Franco’s party and Los Angeles! The only people left alive inside the house are James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jay, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill. After a night’s disturbing rest, they are joined by Danny McBride, the biggest douche-bag that ever walked the planet (or so his character would have you believe!).

The ensuing movie plays out with the six men bickering and arguing about sharing the remaining food and water, who likes whom the most (or least), what really is going on outside and what are those ominous creatures lurking around out there, and why did Emma Watson (who shows up later) freak out and steal all their water over a misunderstanding? McBride is soon summarily removed from the house for being such a world-class jerk, and from there things go from bad to worse as Jonah gets possessed by a demon…with Jay performing a makeshift exorcism that is too funny for words.

The climatic ending has the few remaining guys leaving the house and running for their lives and meeting up with nasty people on the streets (with a hysterical stunt cameo here). All in all, I can’t imagine this movie not being made without hours of outtakes, since all these guys are improv masters. Who knows how much of the script was even in the movie! I swear, in some scenes, it looked like they were just making it up as they were going along.

The SPFX are here top-notch here as well as the casting, which must have been a hoot; getting together with all your friends to make this movie. Imagine, making fun of the movies you were in that died at the box office? Showing yourself off as a coke-headed jerk? Letting the world see you as a truly offensive and awful person with zero qualities? AND to do it all with a straight face? That takes guts. The real stand outs here are Rogan and Franco who clearly seem to be having the most fun. Their real-life friendship and natural chemistry comes through and drives the picture. Yes, it’s silly (and gory in some places), but also wickedly fun and imaginative.

**Note: because “This Is The End” is the first “end of the world” comedy (although “The World’s End” with Simon Pegg, hasn’t arrived yet), I thought I’d go 180 and give you my movie comparison on the opposite end of the spectrum!

TESTAMENT (1983)

Don’t watch this movie. Seriously. Don’t watch it or even go near it unless you want to be SO depressed afterwards that you’ll want to take your life by walking into a biker bar and yelling, “HEY! All you Harley riders SUCK!!”

Utterly void of any happiness, this cinematic masterpiece of despondency tells the tale of the Wetherly’s, an ordinary family living an ordinary life in an ordinary mid-California town called Hamelin when IT happens….as children Brad (Ross Harris), Mary Liz (Roxana Zal), and Scottie (Lukas Haas) watch TV, their show is suddenly replaced by static, then a San Francisco news anchor appears onscreen saying there have been nuclear explosions in New York and up and down the East Coast.

Oh, but it gets worse. The Emergency Broadcast System goes off just as mother Carol (Jane Alexander) sees a blinding flash of a nuclear detonation way off in the distance. San Francisco, and her husband Tom (William Devane) who was there, are now toast. Hamelin survives because the town is far enough away from San Francisco to avoid any blast damage (whew!), the nuclear fallout is another question (uh-oh!).

After the radio reports state that the nuke attacks are over, the town tries to return to “normal”, but that’s not gonna happen…ever. Carol’s children (as well as everyone else in town) are all dying, due to the lethal radiation sickness slowly creeping into town. Carol tries to keep up any semblance of a normal life, but her kids are dropping like flies, her neighbors and loved ones are leaving town (or dead or dying), and there’s nothing to watch on TV!

In the end, she contemplates suicide instead of waiting for the grim reaper to eventually come and take her like everyone else.

OMG! WTH?? Who writes movies like this? Carol Amen and John Sacret Young did. A bold piece of film making that proves that you CAN make a movie that has no redeeming qualities in it whatsoever, save one: it can make you cry your eyes out and wanna curl up in a little ball and rock back and forth. Yes, it has incredible acting and a great in-your-face script that pulls no punches, but if you decide to rent this movie, remember… I warned you!

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