In 1999, Freaks and Geeks premiered on TV and lasted all of one season. It was one of those shows that was ‘critically acclaimed’, but not universally watched by the public. It was produced by Judd Apatow, and really served more as a pool of talent for future Apatow projects and forming the friendships of many young actors. The show featured John Francis Daley, Samm Levine, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Busy Philipps, and others.
Since then, many of these cast members have appeared in other comedies together that have been produced by Apatow. Seth Rogen started writing movies with his best friend Evan Goldberg. They wrote most of the TV show Undeclared, many episodes of Da Ali G Show, Drillbit Taylor, Pineapple Express, the Green Hornet, and the Watch. In fact – Superbad stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera and “Seth” and “Evan”.
This Is The End is their latest offering, and it is completely insane. Everyone in the movie plays themselves, or a more Hollywood-douchey version of themselves (we can hope).
The movie begins with Seth picking up his friend Jay Baruchel from the airport as he is just in from Canada. The two have been friends since childhood, but Jay is having difficulties fitting in with Seth’s new Hollywood friends. They head back to Seth’s house where they smoke a lot of weed. Seth then insists they head to a party at James Franco’s house, despite the fact that Jay does not want to go.
After arriving at the house, and using the party scene to throw as many cameos in the movie as possible (this is probably the best part), Jay decides to head down to the local convenience store to pick up some cigarettes. Seth goes with him, and while there – the rapture happens. Seriously – the biblical rapture happens. All the good people get sucked up into heaven in a blue light, while earthquakes resulting in fire-filled holes go through the city. They head back to Franco’s house (having not been sucked into heaven), and run screaming into the house, to find that no one inside is aware of anything happening. A large earthquake scares everyone, and they run outside.
In the panic, the majority of the house guests fall into a flaming pit. By the time everything calms down, the only people left in the house are Seth, Jay, Franco, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill. They analyze their supplies and go to sleep. In the morning, Danny McBride wakes up (he spent the night in the bathtub) and makes a large breakfast using the majority of the supplies. The rest of the movie is spent trying to survive in the house, while occasionally attempting to gather supplies from outside, and battling the demons that are roaming the hillsides. Jay figures out what is going on, and tries to explain to the others what they need to do to be ‘saved’, but you can figure out how that goes.
Castwise – there’s not much to say, since everyone plays themselves. This is a huge advantage, and you can tell that half the dialogue is improvised. Because these actors are all friends, it really allowed for great chemistry, and some really funny moments where they tease each other about past projects. Franco plays Franco a little too focused on Seth Rogen. Jonah Hill has some really funny moments in trying to be better friends with Jay because he likes Seth, and Seth likes Jay, but he can’t really figure out why. Also, Jonah gets raped by the devil…seriously. Craig Robinson plays almost exactly the same as he was/is on the Office, but has some funny scenes with Jay once he figures out what is really going on. Danny McBride – wow, I can’t put it into words. He is a jerk. I’m sorry – he plays himself as a jerk in this movie. The way he eventually ends up is really hilarious, especially who he gets as his pet. Also – Emma Watson with an axe.
This movie could have easily been very self-indulgent, filled with inside jokes, and personal stories. While there is some of that, there is also the broadening of the comedy to include the audience in the jokes. The front half of the movie, featuring the set-up, the party, and the beginning of the apocalypse is hilarious and non-stop. Once the survivors settle into the house, it does begin to drag a bit. They do make their own re-make of Pineapple Express – so if you’re a fan of that film, you’ll love it. The very end however, almost makes up for the slow second half of the movie. It is fantastic. Personally, I really could have done with less dick jokes, and less weed/drug jokes – but that is the bread and butter for this crew. If you have liked any of their other movies, chances are you’ll love this one. Why were there no outtakes over the end credits? I would have loved outtakes of the party sequence.
6 out of 10 – Most people will like this, and will probably give it a higher grade. I think guys and stoners in particular will love it. Being neither of those things, I found it funny, but not fantastic. Gained points for the great cameos at the party. Lost points for that being all they were – cameos. I could have used more Kevin Hart, more Paul Rudd, more Mindy Kaling, but honestly – that was more than enough Michael Cera – yikes.
Bonus Video 1 – Tropic Thunder…because this feels like that, with actors playing douched-up versions of themselves, and Jay Baruchel…
Bonus Video 2 – She’s Out of My League…Jay Baruchel in a very underrated comedy, which has T.J. Miller, which makes everything better.
Bonus Video 3 – The World’s End…similar theme (sort of, robot apocalypse instead of biblical apocalypse), but from the folks who brought you Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz…I cannot wait!
Bonus Video 4 – Cast Interviews