Okay. Imagine that Tarkovsky’s ‘The Sacrifice’ took place not in a remote dacha but a couple of miles from the Hollywood sign, that its protagonists were not a group of moody cerebral eastern Europeans but a cluster of egomaniacal actors, and that its coming apocalypse was signalled not by portentous reports on the radio but by the arrival of a Godzilla-sized demon with a penis of fire …
I’m not selling you on this, am I?
Okay. Remember when one of your mates first got a camcorder and a whole bunch of you decided you’d make a movie over the weekend only you put effort into drinking, smoking weed and arguing about what topping to order on your pizza than you did actually scripting the thing or worrying too much about blocking, camera-work, direction and, y’know, general coherence? And remember when you watched the resultant opus, some time later, stone cold sober, and realised it was an egregious embarrassment that ought never be seen by another human being? ‘This is the End’ is kind of like that, but made by celebrities and with a special effects budget. Oh, and there are actually some decent lines and a few scenes manage to land the occasional satirical punch, and …
I’m still not selling you on this, am I?
Hey, guys: for anyone who’s ever wanted to see Michael Cera impaled by a street light, Rihanna swallowed by a pit of fire, Emma Watson wielding an axe, and a bunch of over-privileged celebrities degenerate into full-on slanging matches over rights to a bar of Milky Way, the dividing up of a piece of cheese, and who jizzed on James Franco’s porno mag, then buddy THIS IS THE MOTHERFUCKING MOVIE FOR YOU!!!!
By the way, that splurge of capital letters and overdose of exclamation marks, hammered home with the expletive, is intended to introduce the reader, gently, into the brash aesthetic of the movie. The, ahem, plot involves Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride – all playing versions, spoofs or public perceptions of themselves, sometimes all of these things within the same, ahem, characterisation – converging at James Franco’s house for a party. Franco also plays a version of himself. Baruchel and Rogen nip down the block for a pack of smokes. The rapture happens. They freak out and head back to the party and ostensibly safety. However, the End of Days doesn’t give a flying fuck about their combined box office clout and hellfire rains down, a pit of fire ruins Franco’s lawn, and demons run amok. A small band of survivors scream at each other, run around and trade in sick humour for the next hour and a half. The overriding impression is that you wouldn’t want to hang out with them on a good day, let alone the Day of Judgement.
‘This is the End’ is bludgeoningly unsubtle, juvenile to the point of emotional retardation, and vulgar in a way that makes you wonder whether the script was actually written or simply assembled from a horrible alphabet soup created by sticking the spleens and bowels of Roy Chubby Brown, Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison in a blender until various combinations of dick, piss and man-boob titty-fucking jokes bubbled up to the surface.
It should be utterly dire. It should be reprehensible. It should be the kind of film that earns a zero-word count on Agitation. And it is, at multiple points in its running time, all of these things. But it’s also genuinely funny and unexpectedly inventive at times. A running gag about a possible sequel to ‘Pineapple Express’ pays off in a sequel that recalls ‘Be Kind Rewind’, and there’s a send-up of ‘The Exorcist’ that is much much funnier than it has any right to be.
‘This is the End’ is not, by any set of critical perameters, a good movie. It’s not a movie I’d have any reason to watch again. But I laughed more often than not while I was watching it, and sometimes that’s all that’s needed.