The lights are on
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**THIS REVIEW IS 100% SPOILER-FREE**
The first four months or so of every year are usually a cinematic wasteland comprised less of "movies" and more of "abominations." Once May rolls around, though, studios begin showing their summer blockbusters and one can feel somewhat safe going to the theater again until the following January. The comedy genre is especially susceptible to the early-year "dumping" period and 2013 has been no exception; this year saw not just one but two "spoof" films in the early part of the year and by all that is good I hope nobody wasted their time on them.
There was the one with the Wayans brother and the one that used to have the Wayans brother...such options!
Once Iron Man 3 released back in May, summer blockbuster season had officially begun. While Iron Man 3 was a pretty funny film in its own right, the film was not a pure comedy and so audiences have been patiently waiting for the first chance to really and truly laugh at the movies this year.
Ahem, like I said, we're still waiting...
This Is The End, the aptly titled apocalypse comedy written and directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (the two longtime friends also wrote Superbad and Pineapple Express together) is here to put an end to the wait, thankfully. The film stars (mainly) Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson (aka Darryl from The Office), Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down), and Jay Baruchel (who was one of the leads in Tropic Thunder). Each of the actors plays a fictionalized version of themselves in a plot that finds Baruchel coming to stay with Rogen in Los Angeles and the two friends heading over to James Franco's house for a party. Everything goes suddenly awry when, apparently, the world begins ending outside of the house.
To say any more about the film would be doing would-be viewers a great disservice. All I can say for sure is to definitely try to avoid any and all trailers for this movie (if you haven't seen one already), mainly because it is stuffed full of hilarious celebrity cameos and a host of increasingly ridiculous scenarios.
The script, which I previously mentioned was written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is consistently funny; it is comprised of about 80% verbal humor to around 20% physical comedy (which is a great ratio). The thing I loved most about the script was that lines and events which are seemingly meant to be one-off jokes at the beginning of the movie frequently turn out to be setups for big laughs down the line. I would be greatly at fault to spoil any of these jokes here, so let it suffice to say that attentive viewers will be rewarded for remembering certain portions of the film's beginning.
So, like, really...no texting. But you already don't do that in a theater, right?
The actors are pretty great as well. It may initially seem that this film could become needlessly self-indulgent, what with each actor portraying themselves and all, but the film doesn't stray into groan-inducing territory. It is generally pretty easy to view these actors as playing characters who just happen to share their names and backstories; some of the events in this film are so far removed from reality that it would be absurd to think there is more than a tiny bit of truth to these characters.
There were two things about the film that weren't as great as the rest of it, one of which was some of the special effects. Granted, some of this may have been intentionally bad, however a certain portion of the CG in the film was of questionable quality. The other thing was a good deal of recognizable brands in the film (mostly food items that the group finds in James Franco's house). There were so many varied brands in the film, though, that I suspect it was less product placement and more just two guys writing things into the script that they themselves enjoy (such as references to In 'N Out Burger and a couple scenes involving a Milky Way candy bar). If you are someone who is easily taken out of a film by such things it may be bothersome; I, personally, did not mind in this case.
Reviewing a comedy film is pretty difficult, mainly because it's hard to describe the events of the film without ruining the jokes and also because situations that are funny on screen are often hard to translate into anything but word-for-word repetition; even then, the delivery of the actors is still sorely missed. What I'm essentially saying is that all I can really say is whether or not a given comedy made me laugh (this one did, a lot), and if a comedy doesn't make me laugh then it probably isn't all that great of a film.
Unrelated Hangover Part 3 promo image
Finally, this is the first of two apocalyptic comedies coming out this summer. The second, titled The World's End, is coming in August and is the long-awaited reunion of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright (the team behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz). I think that these two films are going to complement each other quite nicely, with one showcasing North American humor sensibilities (This Is The End) and the other showcasing a British take on the same subject matter.
Regardless of the similarities and differences between the two films, for now, This Is The End is the first great comedy of the year, putting an end to the long early-year comedy drought.
Let me know what you all think of the movie when you see it, or what your are/aren't looking forward to about it.
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