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by Rolf Anthony Young
Seth Rogen continues to be an enigma for me when compared to the board spectrum of talent that crowds the current Hollywood landscape. Beginning with Knocked Up in 2007, Rogen has managed to become something of a commercial success without having to really change character regardless of what type of movie he is in. Seth Rogen plays a great Seth Rogen. My favorite Rogen performance came in 2011 when he played Kyle, best friend of Adam, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in the movie 50/50. In a supporting role, Rogen delivered his trademark comedic performance while allowing for the movie’s message of surviving cancer, not to weaken. So, when Seth Rogen is less Seth Rogen-ery, I enjoy his movies more. This Is the End, does this but then it doesn’t do much more.
The plot revolves around Jay Baruchel, playing as himself, coming to visit Seth Rogen, who also plays himself, as Jay hopes to rekindle his friendship with his childhood best friend Seth. Jay lives in Canada and hasn’t quite figured out what he wants to do with his life/career yet. As for Seth, he is living the Hollywood dream, making movies and making money. Jay begins to realize how different Seth is while they attend a party at James Franco’s house and soon the apocalypse begins. Seth takes the side of his new Hollywood friends by agreeing that the apocalypse is just an earthquake and everything will be fine. This sets the stage as Jay tries to convince the group of survivors made of Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, and Seth that the apocalypse is in fact happening.
Barricading inside Franco’s house, much to the displeasure of Franco, allows for the movie to shine early on as the survivors try their best at preparing for the end of the world. Ultimately, Seth Rogen who directed the movie with Evan Goldberg, places too much pressure on the cast to keep the joke running that Tropic Thunder mastered a few years ago. Hollywood loves to make fun of Hollywood but with a script this shallow it’s hard to create something out of nothing. Luckily, Danny McBride arrives at the perfect time and unleashes his best non-Kenny Powers performance to date. I would even suggest that without McBride’s do-whatever-the-hell-I-want-to-do attitude the movie would suffer from an anxiety attack of too much talent with too little focus. Surprisingly, Channing Tatum shows up towards the end of the movie with McBride in a scene that that is more uncomfortable then funny.
This Is the End is a comedy that struggles to find a balance. It is one part reality TV, one part comedy, and one part disaster movie. It is this strange unbalance that is appealing yet at the same time delivers less of the unexpected and more of the expected. The few early scenes with Michael Cera at Franco’s party and Emma Watson’s axe wheeling don’t last long enough to really push the movie into the unpredictable state it tries so hard to reach. This Is the End is a frustratingly mediocre comedy that seems to lack the more memorable scenes that Rogen’s films have been known for. Ultimately, This Is the End will leave you wanting more from it, and who wouldn’t want more from a talented cast such as this. But then again, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.