I have a weakness for bro humor. I wish I could say this developed recently due to exposure to high school boys. The truth is that my appreciation for boorishness goes back long before my teaching stint. It’s only when I see movies like This Is The End that I realize just how lowbrow I am.
The premise is simple: Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel head over to James Franco’s housewarming party. While there, the end of the world begins. Safe in the confines of the fortress-like estate, the two friends band together with fellow survivors James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride.
As expected, This Is The End takes full advantage of its R rating. People get impaled, crushed, and eaten. Survivors spend time getting high, roughhousing, and making cracks about their bodily fluids. Of course there are some line-crossing moments in this cavalcade of crudeness (rape jokes being the most distasteful example). Yet, for me, there were enough instances of badassery, bromance, and buffoonery to compensate for the parts that weren’t so agreeable.
First of all, Emma Watson makes a cameo that will cause any Harry Potter fan and/or feminist to cheer. There’s also a fantastic rap soundtrack, an appearance from a beloved boy band, a mock trailer for Pineapple Express 2, and copious pop culture references (especially about the actors’ own failures). In addition to all of that, This Is The End incorporates a surprising amount of heart. I went into the theater expecting nothing more than mindless humor; I came out actually caring about the characters’ friendships and fates.
What I arguably enjoyed most about This Is The End — aside from the aforementioned highlights–was its unique approach to the dystopian/apocalyptic genre. By executing the film as a comedy and by having the actors portray themselves, Goldberg and Rogen effectively buck conventions. When the box office is saturated with hackneyed dramas and thrillers, it’s refreshing to come across a film that’s willing to make fun of itself and its competition with equal gusto.