Sunday, July 7, 2013

This Is the End (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

This Is the End

For those who like the madcap comedy film, here is one that makes the genre of madcap proud. The understated but self consciously titled, "This Is the End" is simple and pedestrian, rooted in American pop culture but deceptively so. The film slips, slides, knocks and bangs about noisily like a tripping teenager, but it gets under your ticklish skin and you will be laughing in seconds.

Judd Apatow alumnus Jay Baruchel travels by plane to visit Seth Rogen. Baruchel is a city boy and he detests L.A. Because Baruchel has such an itchy, self doubting and passive appearance in the manner of Larry David, this is funny from the get go. Baruchel would be comical watching paint dry. Hijinks is almost unnecessary.

Rogen, feeling that his long ago friend is drifting apart from him, supplies him with pot and a smorgasbord of munchies in addition to 3D television. We see a high speed montage of Rogen and his friend engaged in silly adolescent horseplay, perhaps in a spoof of  "A Clockwork Orange". After a few hours, Rogen suggests they attend a party at James Franco's house. Baruchel hates the idea. Hideous and insincere stars are going to be there, including Baruchel's rival, Jonah Hill. But Rogen begs, and Jay reluctantly agrees.

When the two approach, they are astonished with envy. Franco's house is a mansion with gigantic walls; it resembles something out of Frank Gehry or it could stand in for Tony Stark's fortress in "Iron Man".

The party is packed with other Apatow actors:  Michael Cera is bitchy and snorting coke while Jason Segal is spaced out and talking about eating. And Rihanna is here smiling.  Baruchel is put off and leaves to search a convenience store.

Abruptly with jarring menace there is a huge explosion with strange beams of light pulling people up into the night sky.

At the very least an earthquake is in progress.

Complete chaos follows with many of the Apatow alumni gorily disappearing.

Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, an effete Jonah Hill and the comic Craig Robinson are left to fend for themselves. While the plot is thin, the one liners are a laugh a second, with plenty irreverence and spoofing of Hollywood movie culture. Baruchel and Hill are a riot as they constantly dig into each other, while the crass Danny Mcbride is outrageous in his near offensiveness. There is one exchange between Mcbride and Franco that is blissfully crude: a ten minute tirade on masturbating and orgasms as weaponry. There is also an "Exorcist" segment with a possessed Jonah Hill who solidly lampoons Linda Blair, which personally delivered some healthy  catharsis to me.

Not since "Ghostbusters" has there been a comedy so associative and free-wheeling. The plot episodes as humorous as they are, are not nearly as funny as the repartee and glib banter. "This Is the End" succeeds because it does not over think its story or get bogged in by causes, effects, or exposition.

The ensemble cast story directed by "Superbad" writer Evan Goldberg and based on a short film written by Rogen, is hysterical and "tight" because it has the good sense to just let go.

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