I am a fan of apocalypse movies. This has been a good weekend for the end of the world. Friday night was WORLD WAR Z and last night was THIS IS THE END.
Only a month ago, I was one of those people who had no desire to see THIS IS THE END, a stoner comedy bromance with Hollywood inside jokes and references to movies I saw forever ago. Only because it’s about the end of the world did I even have enough interest to look up to watch the trailer. I didn’t even finish PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. I don’t remember KNOCKED UP. Hell, I didn’t even see Franco’s acclaimed drama 127 HOURS. Why would I see this Hollywood circle jerk ruining my favorite genre? Puhlease.
This Sunday morning, consider me converted.
While Friday night’s film can be appreciated for characters being smart while the world falls apart, this film can be appreciated for characters being completely idiotic while the world falls apart. Which one is how we all will likely act when the world ends? This movie. Screaming like babies and fighting over the last candy bar.
Bottom line: I had a great time with this movie. Even without knowing half the celebrity smack talk, I had a great time. If you are fans of these guys, I have no idea how much you will jizz at the fun you’re having. I laughed out loud often. And the NYC audience I saw it with cheered in the final act. Cheered. For LA actors. If that’s not a testament of the fun this movie is, then there is no testament.
So, for people like me, who might enjoy it even though the inside jokes will be lost on them, here’s a little back story about Seth and Jay and the Apocalypse. (True fans feel free to correct anything here.)
In 2006, two actors named Seth Rogan and Jay Baruchel were making some great strides in their career and they decided to take some time to make a short film. Maybe it’d get into some festivals. For fun. For the kids. (Not really for the kids.)
They made a short film about being stuck together in the apocalypse. A trailer was posted on youtube in 2007 and it got a lot of buzz. The short never made it to festivals. It is rumored to be shelved as part of the buy from Sony to create the feature film.
Seth and Jay started as actors in Canada. Their filmography is as follows (and expect references):
“Freaks and Geeks” – I actually don’t recall a reference to this in the film (husband says one of Franco’s paintings does it), but as a history of their friendship, this is pivotal. If you never saw this show (I didn’t), you likely spend a lot of time in your life being told how you totally missed out. This is a 1999-2000 tv show that gave James Franco his start as well as introducing Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, and Martin Starr to the world. Judd Apatow was one of the creators of this show, so there’s also that. Around this time, Jay is in Canada doing a tv show called “Are You Afraid of the Dark.”
“Undeclared” – a couple years later Jay and Seth work with Apatow in the tv show “Undeclared.”
SUPERBAD – This had Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as awkward teens. Total bromance. I think 90% of the people in THIS IS THE END, including cameos, was at least a cameo/extra here.
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS – It’s about stoners. Seth Rogan and James Franco loved doing it. I almost recommend seeing this before seeing THIS IS THE END. Evan Goldberg wrote this (and cowrote THIS IS THE END). And this is how Danny McBride and Craig Robinson prominently enter the back story. There’s a lot of references to this movie in THIS IS THE END, which includes a PINEAPPLE EXPRESS sequel the survivors make with their camcorder, some toy cars, and a few joints. Again, I didn’t finish it. Generally not my kind of movie. I’m not a stoner movie girl. And although stoner humor is the spine of THIS IS THE END, I was there for the well executed rapture and end-time panic jokes.
So that back story of the actors is pretty much the back story of the characters. These men play caricatures of their true selves, a specific personality trait exaggerated for character arc and comedy. My favorite: Michael Cera, a branded awkward sweetheart in films, is a coke induced asshole here. I’m not sure how Cera is in real life, but the caricature was a riot. Maybe a coke induced sweetheart asshole.
Over the years, fans on message boards and journalists on red carpets kept asking Jay and Seth when they were going to make “Jay and Seth Vs the Apocalypse.” They had no time. It’d be fun, but it’s definitely a passion project, they’d say. Well, that passion project got 32 million dollars from Sony and became THIS IS THE END.
As a woman who doesn’t relate to stoner/Hollywood/bromance humor, this does pique my interest in what other teams could do this for my demographic. THIS IS THE END is a guy’s movie in so many ways. It makes me wonder what women like Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy would do with an end time film. Here, multiple monsters have a huge penis. Guys talk about jerking off. Drug culture references abound. If women did this, would the sisterhood play out more or less the same? I must admit, the guy pack dynamic is very sweet in this film. I wouldn’t expect much of a character shift changing genders. Just the jokes, really. Our punchlines can be as crass and over the top, but we focus on different things. Monsters with large breasts? I guess big dicks would play as much, just differently. Masturbation jokes would likely parallel. Would the drugs be different? It certainly would be fun to find out. Who has Wiig’s number?
Pros: Funny, gross, some well placed jump scares, makes you talk at the screen
Cons: Inside jokes, too pop culture to watch in three years
Recommendation: Go in a teenage boy. If you aren’t one, be willing to be one for 90 minutes. It’s worth it.