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Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:23 am

End an effective, comedic look at the rapture

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I would be willing to bet that movie studios dread it when a major star, whose films have generated big box office, approaches them with a vanity project. These are movies that are personal in nature and tend to have no superheroes, car chases or explosions in them, meaning they’re going to bomb at the box office. If you faintly remember Russell Crowe’s ill-fated 2006 feature A Good Year (he’s a businessman who inherits his uncle’s winery … ring any bells … I thought not.) then you know what I mean. That being said, it’s obvious that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This is the End is the exception that proves the rule where vanity projects are concerned and the kind that studios would love to see more of.

Made for a relatively modest $32 million, the movie is basically an extended therapy session for Rogen and his friends as they play themselves on screen, venting and screaming at one another things they wished they could say in real life but don’t. In the film, they have nothing to lose as the End of Days has occurred which puts a bit of a damper on James Franco’s housewarming party where the crew has assembled. Those in attendance include Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera and Emma Watson among many others of the young Hollywood crowd.

If none of these names sound familiar, well then this film wasn’t pitched toward you and seeing Before Midnight would be a better option for you this weekend. If you’re still reading that means you know who these performers are and you know what to expect from a movie jam-packed with actors and actresses of this ilk. There is, on average, a joke about the male member every 6.5 minutes, drug-related humor abounds and there are at least three extended comedic scenes that I cannot properly describe in this publication.

While there’s nothing new where jokes of this sort are concerned, it must be said that they’re delivered with the sort of vicious energy that hits the mark, especially an increasingly heated exchange between Franco and McBride over a pornographic magazine that left me in tears, gasping for breath. And while the gags work more times than not, what’s most engaging about End is the way in which these well known celebs portray themselves on screen. Self-depreciating humor abounds, particularly where Cera is concerned. The boyish actor, who came to prominence in Juno, is seen as a coke-addled, sex addicted boar who readily earns the grisly fate that awaits him when the earth opens up and the Hollywood Hills are on fire, having been raked by demons that are now roaming the Earth’s skies. In an interview, Rogen has stated that 50 percent of what we see on screen was improvised and that often conversations between actors had to be halted because they would become too intense. No doubt, a bit of catharsis was being experienced on the set.

Though the film overstays its welcome, there’s no question it delivers more than its fair share of fun. In making this vanity project, it’s obvious that little in the way of ego was involved as Rogen and his cohorts portray themselves at their worst to great effect. And if heaven is anything like it’s portrayed here, spending eternity there will be well worth the wait.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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