Film Review: This Is The End/The World's End
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Alistair Gardiner watches two major new comedies that both involve the world ending and finds both heaven and hell... Certificate: 18/15 106/109 mins Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg/Edgar Wright
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride/Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund PikeThis Is The End and The World’s End are films that are very similar in ways that go beyond the titles. Both, for example concern themselves with piss-ups interrupted by Armageddon. Both also attempt to use these plots as a by-line to access a more grounded emotional story. Both are the latest in their own respective succession of comedic movies that can be linked by style and sensibility. Both were even conceived at similar times. What’s more interesting is their differences, which is essentially a list of reasons why one of the films is successful in its intentions and the other flails about like limp fish. This Is The End begins with Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel) arriving into L.A. to spend the weekend with his old friend Seth Rogen (Seth Rogen). After a marijuana fuelled afternoon, Seth informs Jay (much to his discontent) that they’re going to a party at James Franco’s house. Jay doesn’t particularly like L.A. or its residents (he only came to the city hang out with his old pal) and when they arrive at the party it becomes apparent why; the place is packed with obnoxious celebrities (including Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, Rihanna etc) indulging in hedonistic acts. But soon the awkwardness of the party is the least of Jay’s problems. It’s a very strong start and the movie really gets into full swing when they arrive at the party. The actors’ perceived Hollywood personas occasionally verge on comic genius – Jonah Hill is a real joy as an unbearable diva and Michael Cera’s will probably be the funniest and most outrageous cameo in any film this year. Aside from the self-parody at play here, most of the laughs come from the ‘Team Apatow’ comedy staple of improvised dialogue where there are no actual gags, but rather a big gaggle of conversation where everyone’s chipping in. Here the funniest lines are thrown away off-screen, whilst the audience gets a simultaneous reaction shot of someone looking bewildered. This is where the film’s at its best: where you’re laughing at dialogue that wouldn’t be funny on the page, where it just feels like you’re hanging out with your friends. The most surprising thing for me, was the subplot regarding the rift occurring in Jay and Seth’s friendship, which threatens (but never quite manages) to become a comment on the superficiality of the Hollywood system and its effects on people. I was desperately hoping that this would become the real agenda of the movie, because tensions like this are the exact reason why Superbad was (and is) the best of the Apatow comedies: at the crux of it all was an honest and heart-clenching story of a childhood friendship inevitably ending. All of this make the first 40 minutes of the film an absolute joy (I even found myself appreciating some seemingly well-crafted cinematography) and I felt like maybe this could be it! Their masterpiece!
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