This was my weekend of personal boundary-pushing. While I’ve already admitted that Superman is my superhero of choice, superhero movies are still not in my wheelhouse. I’ve been enjoying them lately because they’ve been made well and stocked with great actors, but, generally, the genre is not at the top of my must-see list.
Generally at the bottom of my must-see list are stupid buddy comedies. Typically aimed at a post-adolescent male audience (aged 18-26 or so), these movies are generally foreign to me, understandably so, and try as I have to appreciate them, they have more often than not failed to connect. There have been movies like 40-Year-Old Virgin, which I love, but Superbad, generally considered one of the most popular and best of the genre, is one of my least favorite movie experiences. God, I hated that movie.
So, when I was asked to go out on a Friday night opening weekend showing of This is the End, the latest movie from the writers/directors of Superbad, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, I was not only hesitant, but fearful. It took semi-decent reviews, a really nice dinner and a strong Malibu and cranberry to get me in the theatre, and I was still dreading every second.
I had a blast.
This movie is incredibly uneven, it stops and starts and has moments where it’s not sure where it wants to go or what it wants to say, but that’s the worst of it. Writer/directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen clearly had a blast making a movie they wanted to make. It’s a movie set in Los Angeles, it stars all their friends playing themselves, it feels like everything they ever wanted to do or say on screen. All I could think of while I was watching this is this is what talented, connected, rich people do for fun. They get together, write a screenplay, ask their friends to be in it, ask their friends to direct it, ask their friends to produce it and then go. Only these guys could make it look this easy.
And it does look easy. But that’s what’s so brilliant about it. Everyone here is playing “themselves,” so there are plenty of jokes about careers and failed movies and egos which work perfectly. Playing a version of yourself is much harder than it looks and Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson and company deserve mad props for putting it all on the line and delivering really great performances within extremely limited lines.
There is a story here, and Goldberg and Rogen try their best to take it through from start to finish, but it’s pretty shallow—and silly, to be honest—as a narrative device and it’s not the glue that sticks this movie together—the personalities and gags are. [Warning: this movie is rated R for a reason. If language or raunchiness offends you in any way, stay away.]
No, I’m not going to tell you much about the plot or what happens or why. All I will tell you is there is a party at James Franco’s house and half of hipster Hollywood is there and that scene alone is worth the price of admission. Where it goes from there, however, is disturbing, brilliant, hilarious, ingeniously clever, bawdy, sick, perverted, twisted and insidiously entertaining. This movie is some fresh air, weird as that sounds. Breathe deeply, your stomach will need it with all the laughing you’ll be doing.