A raucous vanity project from a slew of comedic minds who should be questioned as to the status of their sanity, This Is the End devastates the R-rating, and questions what the NC-17 is legitimately used for… or what had to be cut in order to fit.
Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel play themselves, as does everyone in this absurdly engrossing nightmare turned comedic genius. Stuck in James Franco’s renovated home in the midst of the Biblical apocalypse, actors – cameo or otherwise – question their faith, purpose, and the meaning of life, all while bickering over who masturbates correctly.
Hollywood has turned from a land of stars to one of earthquakes and sinkholes leading to the pits of Hell. Rationing supplies – and porn magazines – the inept crew of survivalists must work out their personal differences as they are slowly dunked into the underworld. Yes, This Is the End goes there. In fact, it goes places and “puts things” where it shouldn’t, all for rampant, wholly offensive shock value. The film is better for it.
Projects like this bring out the human side of actors. How far will they go? How willing are they to play on their failures or demean themselves for a laugh? Given the lack of barriers, this erect comedy (that is literal) flaunts its star power in preposterous situations, including drug-induced, disturbing sexual deviance. We live in a country which balks at sexuality, so it is likely the decapitated head being used as an indirect soccer ball which becomes the least offensive thing here.
This Is the End swerves, turning into horror comedy with unexpected consequences. So dynamic is the third act, wholly panic stricken, that a break-neck pace carries the film into its remarkably stupid climax. And it’s awesome. Lovers of unrestricted, off-the-wall zaniness will jump at the chance to experience this exercise in self-referential embarrassment. Crass is insufficient language for the wide berth of comedy offered, from the childish to the pornographic. All of it hits.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s film won’t age well. References to Spider-Man 3 can only hold weight for a span of time. This Is the End locks itself to the here and now, requiring insider knowledge of a burgeoning adult comedy scene to click. It is limiting, a joke of little substance or merit. However, let’s live now. For tomorrow, 50 story high demon penis could conquer us all. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Shot with dramatically low light and zero appreciation for the idea of shadow detail, This Is The End is punchy with its blacks, arguably some of the deepest to be reigned in during this digital era. Density is utterly remarkable, and lends the film a low power look which snatches up the apocalypse scenario’s candle light. Night is completely cloaked, and things such as hair or dark t-shirts become swallowed by deeply enveloping, crushing blacks.
Restrained is color variety, graded to a bronzed yellow, with a handful of earlier scenes draped in blues. Franco’s house is cast in exterior flames, which color grading represents with its patches of warmth. Flesh tones mirror hues pushed onto walls, creating symbiotic choices and minimal variation. Splotches of blood, maybe a shirt or art decoration will show what little variances are allowed.
For its style, The End does rush to pump up front lighting, meaning facial definition is often sublime. Close-ups house pores, and hair – when not pushed under black – is refined. Fidelity is masterful when the film settles, although will succumb to obvious green screen imagery or the occasional medium shot which has smothered, all-digital origins on occasion.
Visual effects will offer some superiority, specifically a fleet of creatures oozing lava between detailed rock skin. These are better than exteriors which are drowning in smoke, although kudos is due to Sony’s encoding. Bitrates are superb and noise, source delivered or from this Blu-ray, proves non-existent. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Arguably the boldest mix to ever come from a direct comedy, this sizzle reel of demo quality envelopment and thick bass from varied sources is a genuine audiophile pleaser. Apocalypse time is 16-minutes, rattling the LFE with thunderous, ground shaking ‘quakes while shifting debris into surround channels. Flames ride up, cars careen into stereos, and downed power lines spark front to back as characters pass.
Exteriors harness open air, heavy flames, and monster groans to make a marvel of precision positioning. Cue up additional thrust from the low end during beastly rampages, additional cracking of Earth, or city-sized monsters crunching Los Angeles with each step. Even during interiors, gunfire or screaming will seep in through open windows to better establishment environments.
Finally, This Is The End adores music, and dominates the subwoofer. From Backstreet Boy classics (?) to hip hop, the mix is a display of constant superiority over its lessers. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]
Prepare for extras impact, lit on fire with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s commentary, before splitting off into numerous featurettes.
Directing Your Friends follows Rogen & Goldberg as they discuss how it was equally easier and more difficult to manage a slate of personal friends on set, mixed with behind-the-scenes chunks. Meta-pocalypse charts the path of being an actor playing themselves in a feature, and what references can be exaggerated. Let’s Get Technical explicitly darts into visual effects, and some of the questionable suit work involved. Party Time works through opening scene cameos, followed up with a massive set of alternate takes on a certain scene titled Cannibal King. A dip into the making of the in-movie movie is surprisingly detailed given how short the scene is. The short with Rogen/Baruchel, which inspired the main feature, is included in its entirety. In all, this section runs near an hour in length.
Line-o-rama, a must for any modern comedy, is a blast with three sections. The gag reel is of (course) hysterical, and deleted scenes would have killed pacing, if not the laughs. A slew of marketing snippets and trailers remain, completing recommended bonus set. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Extras]