Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie with Abe: This Is the End

This Is the End
Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Released June 12, 2013

It's always fun to see comedians having a genuinely good time together. Hence the appeal of the directorial debut of the writing team behind the truly hilarious "Superbad," which casts Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride as themselves. Mixing in what could be either judgment day or a zombie apocalypse only adds to the allure, since parody adds an additional layer of humor. Yet "This Is the End" is a magnificent miss, a brief glimpse of what could have been gone horribly, horribly wrong.

There is a tendency that actors known for portraying eccentric characters purposely underplay the cinematic interpretations of their true selves. Sometimes, that makes a funnyman seem excessively grumpy, which is the case here with Baruchel, whose visit to L.A. is the impetus for the film’s early events. Franco also parodies himself to an unlikeable end, making him excessively obnoxious and detestable rather than suave or charming. Rogen doesn’t do much of anything, making his performance flat, while Hill and Robinson put more effort into mildly memorable turns. The true star is Danny McBride, eternally committed to portraying despicable characters with absolutely zero shame and an admirable sense of self, the more off-putting the better.

It initially appears that “This Is the End” might suffer from a case of being too referential, with actors introducing and referring to themselves by their full names to remind the audience that they are indeed famous. By the time that the film’s cast is narrowed down to the above-named six, however, it feels like a wasted opportunity to have so many early cameos that are all too fleeting. That factor is compounded considerably by the fact that the film loses its grip on both reality and humor by its middle, and, by its end, it’s gone so far that its mediocre opening moments are a distant memory. Rogen and Goldberg are capable of turning what should be dumb comedy into intelligent humor, yet here it’s clear that a predilection for the juvenile and stupid got the best of them. What the film becomes is an unbearable, heinous mess that undercuts the film’s concept, making it unnecessary for these actors to have portrayed themselves since their self-portrayals have become so idiotic and regrettable. Some might enjoy the horror that this misguided comedy becomes, but those that enjoyed “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” will cringe at the thought of what this is compared to all that it could have been.


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