For someone who dabbles in more illicit substances than a Venice Beach soul surfer, Seth Rogen somehow sees comedy with astounding clarity. The actor’s latest outing, ‘This Is The End,’ is also his directorial debut. The actor, writer, and now fledgling director expertly maneuvers all jobs with ease, and ends up creating a horror, fantasy farce that is equal parts MPAA defying hard-R gross out humor and celebrity stoner incite.
This comedy concoction is not something easily mastered. Sure, Rogen and his directing and writing collaborator Evan Goldberg had the added benefit of having cameos by pretty much every A-list comedic actor in Hollywood — James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling, Jason Segal — but creating a balance between where the real actor could play a heightened version of himself or herself but also maintain some sort of celebrity believability is pretty hard to pull off.
On paper, ‘This Is The End’ is undeniably smug. I can almost hear Rogen pitch the project to Columbia Pictures: ‘I’ll get all of my famous acting buddies together to play extreme versions of themselves all while the apocalypse hits Earth and I have to fight my way to heaven in order to escape the purgatory that has now consumed the Hollywood Hills. Trust me. It’ll be a hit.’ It’s a quintessential example of the actor superiority complex.
Thankfully Seth Rogen is a lot smarter than the cheap impersonation I just tried to pull off. He knows that a lot of celebrities would immediately think that, should the apocalypse actually happen, heaven would automatically open up its doors for them, and for that reason, doesn’t allow his arrogant movie concept to overpower the film.
He continuously pokes fun at himself as well as the rest of his equally prominent cast through a variety of gags, pop culture references, and self-deprecating jokes that take the phrase “you are your own worst enemy” to a whole new level. James Franco, Jonah Hill, and even Emma Watson shed their normally held image, and assume personas that seem way too outlandish to actually be true.
As eccentric as these on-screen personalities may be, they are not nearly as outrageous as the film’s content. With a narrative that features demons flying around LA, Michael Cera as a coked out sex fiend, and the reuniting of the biggest boy band of the ‘90s, there will come a moment in each audience member’s movie viewing experience when he or she will question his or her sanity. Is Jonah Hill really doing what I think he’s doing? Is that really Channing Tatum? Allow me to reassure you. Yes, those actors are doing those ridiculous things, and yes, I am enjoying it just as much as you are.
By David Morris