This high concept apocalyptic comedy has all of the principal cast playing fictionalised versions of themselves while the world is ending around them. It’s essentially a series of interconnected sketches and madcappery with the backdrop of the end of the world. That it works at all is a marvel. That it’s one of the funniest films in years is just the icing on the cake.
Arriving at a party at James Franco’s house, which before long descends into The End of the title in a hilarious sequence which spectacularly kills off most of the cameo performers in the film such as Michael Cera and Rhianna, friends Jay (Jay Baruchel), Seth (Rogen), Craig (Robinson), Jonah (Hill) and Danny (McBride) start doing what they can to survive the apocalypse. From here on in the film is essentially The Mist, with added toilet humour and copious amounts of swearing.
Your tolerance for and enjoyment of the film will really boil down to whether or not you like these actors, because aside from the opening twenty minutes, they’re the only people on screen.
Thankfully, I find them all to be hilarious and just watching them hang about the house, refusing to go outside out of fear is funny enough. Whether they’re arguing over who gets to eat the last Milky Way or making their own homemade sequel to Pineapple Express, the gags come thick and fast and you might find yourself laughing so hard at one joke that you miss the one after. As with most of the comedies from this group of actors (Superbad, Pineapple Express, 21 Jump Street) a lot of the scenes feel very loose, in that while there is a script the actors are free to improvise, which gives the film a twisted believability.
It’s also refreshing to see the actors have the willingness to send themselves up, with one character asking why Seth Rogen plays the same character in all his films (doubly funny considering the film is co-written and directed by Rogen and longtime partner Evan Goldberg) and how nobody is clamouring for a sequel to Your Highness. All the actors are on top form here, unafraid to send up their personas for the sake of a laugh and become all the more endearing and rootable for it. Except Danny McBride.
The film goes to some pretty deep places as well for what’s essentially a bawdy comedy, and the themes of friendship and loyalty are prevalent throughout creating an emotional throughline which ends satisfactorily at the climax, but the set up never takes precedence over the laughs. Just when you think the film is going to get too maudlin and soppy a spectacular song choice pops up and has you laughing your head off.
It’s filthy, it’s vulgar but it’s one of the best comedies for ages and highly recommended. I find it hard reviewing comedies, because it basically comes down to ‘Did I laugh?’ Here, the answer is yes. Frequently. So much so that I will probably go again to hear the jokes I missed.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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