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Film & DVD

'This Is the End'

Crude, tasteless, bloody and funny – a comedy of excess

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This Is the End
★★★

When it comes to comedy, is there such a thing as too much? Is it OK to play soccer with a guy’s decapitated head and for five guys to discuss “a rapey vibe” in the air while Emma Watson rests in a nearby bedroom?

This Is the End is crude, tasteless, bloody and, at its best, riotously funny, in the guiltiest of pleasures kind of way. Based on Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse, a 2007 short by Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, it involves a drunken, drug-fueled party at James Franco’s mansion (all the actors play themselves) in the Hollywood Hills that’s interrupted by the first signs of the Apocalypse. Soon, Los Angeles is on fire, and a giant sinkhole on Franco’s front lawn swallows all the bad elements (only the “good” survive). It’s a fast-paced mix of horror, comedy and monster sci-fi, and there are cameos everywhere: I counted 26, including Rihanna and a major Hollywood heartthrob I won’t spoil for you, but whose few seconds on screen nearly steal the movie while potentially ruining his career.

Right off the bat, the movie lets us know these actors are making fun of themselves. When Rogen picks up Baruchel at LAX, a guy with a camera recognizes him and asks, “You’re playing the same guy in every movie. When are you going to do some real acting?” Baruchel hates LA in the same way Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer hated it in Annie Hall, but what he encounters tops his worst expectations. Baruchel is confident, though: “When the quake hits, who will they rescue first?” he asks. “Actors!”

Eventually, the saved rescue themselves and meet in heaven, a place where you get everything you wish for: pot, women and music, in the form of another major surprise cameo (and this is no spoiler, believe me).

Plenty of action, terrific one-liners and surprises make you forget this is a one-joke movie, but it works best when the boys just talk to each other in rapid-fire delivery. Even the Emma Watson scene, with Craig Robinson denying the “rapey vibe” rumors while wearing a “TAKE YO’ PANTIES OFF” T-shirt, is a killer, not just because Watson gets the upper hand – a bunch of Jewish comedians talking about Jesus and salvation is something to behold.

This ain’t Bergman or Kurosawa, folks. This is just another stoner buddy movie for those who enjoyed Pineapple Express. Give it a try, and don’t bring the kids.

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