Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This is the End: Hopefully Not

Comedy troupes/acts are typically only relevant for a short while. Monty Python had a solid decade. Bill Murray's prime was from 1980-1984. Even Adam Sandler was funny for a couple of years. The string that Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg et al have put together is probably the best of any comedy troupe since Farley-era SNL. They have had a sustained run since 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin (unless you want to go back to Freaks and Geeks), producing seven 'Certified Fresh' movies by RottenTomatoes in that time.

If you've seen a commercial, I don't need to tell you what happens in this movie. With every actor playing themselves, Jay Baruchel visits Seth Rogan while in LA. Rogan drags Baruchel to a party at James Franco's new house, when the apocalypse hits and hilarity ensues. With more cameos than any movie in recent memory, the celebrities have to deal with this scenario in surprisingly hilarious fashion.

The film, based on a 2007 short, Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse. attacks a number of actual, real themes: celebrity, ego, friendship and loyalty -- enough that one wonders which of the dramas explored in the film are present in the relationships of the film's stars. More importantly, it is goddamn hilarious.

Story: 3/5 - The story is actually pretty good for a stoner comedy. As mentioned, the guys combat not just the End of Days, but the relationships within the house. Friendships are challenged, beliefs are shaken, and while the writers (Goldberg and Rogan) probably weren't looking to be artsy, the movie is deeper than the dick jokes.

Writing: 5/5 - This is probably the most cleverly-written wide-release comedy since The Hangover. Apparently 50% of the jokes were ad-libbed, and that is believable. The jokes are perfect, the cameos are brilliant. This is the End isn't just funny, this is bring-you-to-tears-in-the-theatre hilarious.

Acting: 4/5 - The cool thing about movies like this (Pineapple Express is the other example) is that the actors are so invested, they become entirely authentic, and this is only exacerbated by the idea to have everybody play themselves. The lines are delivered very effectively. This is the best comedy troupe in Western cinema plying their trade expertly.

Aesthetics: 4/5 - That scene in Office Space where they beat up the fax machine has had a magnificent impact on comedy - slow-motion and ironic music have produced fantastic results in a number of productions in the last five years or so: take this scene from Danny McBride's HBO series Eastbound and Down. This is just an example, of course; the entire movie is full of 'fun' shots and excellent editing.

Final Grade: 80%

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