Friendship, Morality, and Cock Jokes: “This Is The End”

By: Chris Dagonas

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are, at this point, a known quantity in Hollywood.  Their films contain enough vulgarity to make a 14-year-old boy blush, but there is always a heart and a message buried somewhere deep inside. Think “Superbad” or “Goon“.  Their latest offering is no different.

“This Is The End” is based on a comedy short film, “Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse” and revolves around Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen (playing themselves) as Jay arrives in Los Angeles to spend a weekend with compatriot Seth.  They play video games, smoke an almost-impossible amount of weed, and just generally chill out, Canadian style.

The duo then head to a party at James Franco’s house (for the sake of expediency, all celebrities play themselves from here on out) where they meet Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and others.  The party has a very Sodom-esque quality to it, with hard drinking, drugs, and wanton sex acts all over the place.  Typical L.A. stuff, you know.

Crazy party, yo!

Crazy party, yo!

As hinted by the title, the apocalypse soon begins.  After much destruction, and the holy salvation of some good, pure people (none of whom come from the party), our six remaining characters (Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Robinson, Hill, and Danny McBride) are left, stuck in Franco’s mansion, to sift through the ashes of their lives, both actual and metaphorical, to sort out why they weren’t saved, and try to move forward despite numerous lingering tensions. The events of the apocalypse are depicted almost literally from the Book of Revelations, with explanations for the non-Christian audience provided by Baruchel reading straight out of a Bible.  Why there is a Bible at James Franco’s mansion of depravity is never questioned.

Around the third act, the comedy begins to slow down and the emotions start to ramp up. After setting the stage by making us actually care about our flawed heroes, the film shifts its focus to some heavy material.  Will they survive?  Will they be saved from destruction?  Was it all just a hallucinogenic nightmare?

Aside from the religious themes that Rogen and Goldberg play with, this film is also a pretty solid send-up of Hollywood and the lives of the people that live there.  While the depictions of some activities are obviously exaggerated to comedic effect, it does force one to consider the morality of Hollywood’s, and by extension North America’s, glorification of drug use and rampant sexuality.

It’s worth mentioning that Jay Baruchel is a more talented actor than he is given credit for.  In a small role in “Million Dollar Baby”, he was memorable and displayed a talent for drama.  Similarly, as a supporting player in “Tropic Thunder“, he was asked to do more than just make weird faces and sarcastic jokes, and did so with a high degree of skill.  This movie, while ridiculous at parts, also requires some gravity from its lead actors, and Baruchel and Rogen are both able to deliver.  Sure, they won’t be winning Academy Awards anytime soon, but they are capable enough that none of the scenes seem too ridiculous or melodramatic.

Rogen and Baruchel, buddying up

Rogen and Baruchel, buddying it up

Rogen and Goldberg have a knack for finding redemption in seemingly irredeemable characters, and use that talent to its full effect here.  The characters are all flawed, some severely, but the viewer has no choice but to root for them to survive and thrive in their new circumstances.  As expected, the majority of the film is spent laughing at our heroes taking drugs, getting drunk, and having obscene conversations with obscene gestures.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.  But in between, there are moments of honest emotion and some deep issues of changing friendships and morality.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s