This Is The End is a difficult film to review. On one hand it represents several disturbing trends in both cinema and society. On the other hand, it’s funny enough to look past these, which may in fact make them all the more disturbing.
The Judd Apatow House of Yuks has always prided itself on crass and crude humor, man-children who never developed social filters, and using the Rapture as a background allows This Is The End to ratchet up the vulgarity to even greater levels because it’s the end of the world, so who cares? Such callous humor often lends itself toward a frightening disregard for life, a trend that had reached its previous nadir with Horrible Bosses. While the end offers a good excuse to casually kill ninety percent of the people on screen in the first twenty minutes, it also makes rape a major theme in three scenes, including one riff on The Exorcist where the setup is about as deplorable as the payoff is riotous. This would be intolerable if the film wasn’t so funny in its sophomoric disrespect for damn near anything. The fact that the film does use humor to make mass slaughter and rape jokes acceptable is nearly more obscene than the mass slaughter and rape jokes themselves.
If you can get passed these elements, This Is The End works by using the main cast, and even some of the cameos, to riff off the vapidity of Hollywood culture and their individual public persona, be they exactly in line with perception, like Danny McBride’s hyper-jerk, or totally incongruous, such as Jonah Hill or more hilariously Michael Cera (one of the two best cameos, the other is an incredible surprise). Yes, like Grown Ups, This Is The End is a hangout session among millionaire friends that us ninety-nine percenters have to pay to attend, but unlike Sandler and company (with the exception of Chris Rock, whose other hangout session, HBO’s Talking Funny, is definitely worth seeing), Rogen, Franco, et al. bounce off and insult each other so well that the fun is in actually seeing these dudes chatter as the whole world burns. Sure, the effects aren’t that great, and the ethics of the movie are questionable at best, but the Apatow crew has never been accused of particularly high quality, socially uplifting humor. That doesn’t make them any less funny in a thoroughly disgusting way.
Besides, it’s the end of the damn world, if you don’t have some stupid fun now, you never will. [subscribe2]