(2.5 / 5)
The most expensive comedy of all time, Evan Almighty, sequel to Bruce Almighty, also happens to be an enormous flop.
When it comes to making people laugh throwing money at the screen rarely seems to have the desired effect. Airplane and Doctor Strangelove were each made for under $15,000,000 (inflation adjusted) and remain two of the most beloved comedies of all time.
It’s a lesson that This Is The End, the newest collaboration by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, half gets right.
The set up is sufficiently epic: an LA house party is interrupted by the End of Days, the celebrity survivors take refuge together. Among the survivors are everyman Jay Baruchel, his best friend Rogen, “pretentious asshole” James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and one uninvited guest.
Each of the main characters plays largely on their public persona (which, as an obnoxious civilian points out, most of them have made their careers out of doing). Most of the yuks come from their interaction, their idiocy, egos and entitlement, though none of the above ever cross the line into becoming unbearably obnoxious.
When the film falls apart is when it feels the need to splash the budget on the screen. Each of the actors, friends in real-life apparently, agreed to work to scale and $36,000,000 still buys a lot of post-apocalyptic CG. The Hollywood Hills on fire is an impressive visual, but, apart from an early sequence when the ground opens up and begins swallowing famous people, it rarely contributes towards the laughs.
While never quite hilarious, This Is The End is at it’s best when it just lets funny people be funny. Michael Cera as a coked-up, lecherous version of himself and references to original Franco/Rogen starrer Freaks & Geeks mostly make up for a misjudged third act that undermines the rest of the fim’s mockery of celeb culture by ultimately elevating it.
Refuge in audacity can be funny, but not when it’s quite this crass. A possessed Jonah Hill responding sarcastically to Jay Baruchel’s belated “The power of Christ compels you” = funny. Giant swinging Satanic cock, not so much.