When you think of the apocalypse -- filled with hell-bent creatures with a thirst for carnage, cannibals, and savages -- a Seth Rogen movie is the last thing you would conjure up in your mind. This is the End is to a Roland Emmerich movie what Shaun of the Dead is to a George A. Romero movie. They take the concept of chaos and the end times, and put funny people in the middle of it all in lieu of the traditional hero or anti-hero.
The movie as a comedy is touch and go. I found it amusing pretty much all the way through, but it felt a little like going through the motions. There are a few cheap laughs, but the jokes may not be relevant ten years from now. It is entirely dependent on the longevity of the cast.
Seth Rogen plays Seth Rogen. Now Seth Rogen always plays Seth Rogen, but this time he really is playing Seth Rogen. That is fine, because for the most part I think his every-man charm suits him well and I don't think I would like to see him take a hard left into another style of acting. James Franco plays James Franco, but he is much more of an actor in the more classical sense than Rogen is. Franco, frankly, is the scene stealer. We are also treated to the likes of Jonah Hill who plays Jonah Hill. Oddly enough, he did not come across the way I would have expected him to be in real life, which I think made it hilarious. Craig Robinson doesn't really step outside of his normal shtick. Danny McBride is too over-the-top and not believable. The film's primary protagonist is actually Jay Baruchel. I think of the entire main cast, he is the least known, so I wonder if they positioned the script to make him our surrogate into the mad world of Hollywood.
Visually, the apocalypse scenes are tight. There was a lot of money put into the visual effects it would seem. Some of the creatures actually do look frightening and imposing. I am surprised at the amount of money they are pouring into comedies these days. As much as I enjoyed the visuals, they could have probably cut their budget in half on those more computerized scenes without alienating any of their fan base.
The soundtrack wasn't too memorable with the exception of "Backstreet's Back". They use a few other songs as background, but don't really stick out or serve a purpose beyond padding the moment.
Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen directed this and I think they did the job they set out to do. There isn't a large demand for complex shots or intricate editing. I did enjoy their cut-a-ways to the video diary entries; they always got a chuckle from the crowd.
This movie was clearly a bunch of friends who wanted to make a movie together to make themselves laugh first and hope the audience gets the jokes. They set out to play exaggerated versions of themselves; so much of the irony is probably lost on people who don't know them. But fans who follow this motley crew of comedians through their movies will certainly appreciate the references to their works -- the movie-within-a-movie sequel to Pineapple Express is worth the viewing alone.
This is the End is probably just the middle; I can see these guys making more and more movies the way they want to. They will fill it with awkward jokes and ridiculous story lines, but there is a quality to those types of comedies that I think will always be welcomed by comedy fans.