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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Apocalypse Later, Dude!

The end of the world has never been funnier than in 'This is the End,' Seth Rogen's and Evan Goldberg's directorial debut about world-ending cataclysm during a party at James Franco's pad in the Hollywood Hills.  The movie starts off with Seth Rogen reconnecting with an old friend from way back when he was in Canada (Jay Baruchel), who reluctantly allowed himself to be dragged into Seth's new rich-and-famous lifestyle when they crashed James Franco's house-warming party, a party also attended by Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Jason Segal, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Martin Starr and David Krumholtz; in other words a veritable 'Who's Who?' of anyone who ever appeared in a Judd Apatow movie.  The only exceptions were Barbados-born pop star Rihanna and Wallflower/Harry Potter-alum Emma Watson. Another Apatow collaborator, Danny McBride, showed up the next day, but you probably already knew all this from the movie's trailer.

'This is the End' is inspired by a 2007 short by Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel called 'Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back,' ahem, 'Jay and Seth versus Evil,' which they developed into a full length parody of apocalyptic sci-fi and the supernatural.   In portraying themselves rather than fictional roles, the actors also get to parody themselves and have some fun while at it.  At its core, the movie is about six people drawn together under trying circumstances (if 'Doomsday' qualifies as such) who have to band together to survive the Apocalypse, but it also riffs some of Hollywood's more familiar tropes.  When people are zapped into Heaven, they look like they're abducted by aliens.  The movie also pays homage to William Peter Blatty's 'The Exorcist' and throws in various movie and pop-culture references ranging from 'Max Max' cannibals to a well endowed giant lava demon (think a raunchier version of the stay puft marshmallow man from 'Ghostbusters') to a Backstreet Boys reunion.  You have to see it to believe it, or not.
Chances are, if you decide to see 'This is the End,' you are already predisposed to like the kind of irreverent, subversive, 'did I just hear them say that?' phallic humor in stoner comedies such as 'Superbad,' 'Pineapple Express,' 'Your Highness,' 'Hot Tub Time Machine' and 'Zack and Miri.'  These movies are unapologetically offensive and we really should hang our heads in shame for enjoying them.
Grade: B+
 
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