Apocalypse Now

The line between clever egotism and insufferable egotism is a thin one. Movie stars are often convinced that they're so lovable that audiences would be thrilled to pony up $12 just for the opportunity to watch them hang out with their friends or family for a couple of hours. Bleh. But there is a clever way to tweak your own image in a way that doesn't insult the audience's intelligence. The guest stars on Extras did it all the time. Apparently, the trick is to play an outsized version of yourself. Then, if people don't like the "character", it's not you they're coming after at all. And what do you do with this outsized version of yourself? Well, if you're Seth Rogen, you put yourself and your buddies through literal Hell.

I've been curious about This Is The End since I first heard about it. Rogen and a bunch of other celebrities gather at James Franco's house for a party, during which, whoops, the End of Days just happens to kick off. All of the world's worthy citizens have been raptured up into Heaven, and the people remaining have to face Armageddon. 95% of the cast immediately bites it, and the small remaining group of survivors has to hole up and face demons, dwindling supplies, and each other.

I had a few reservations going in. First, it certainly had the potential to be too much of what I call a DudeBro movie. Judd Apatow didn't have anything to do with it, but most of his usual stable of actors is in it, and the dialogue is certainly in his style. That style can be amusing, but it can also be overly impressed with itself. Secondly -- and we've been over this before -- I was very worried about the gore level.

The first problem turned out to not be a problem at all. Maybe it's because this movie is more plot-driven than character-driven, so the usual lengthy brotastic conversations are constantly being interrupted by fresh disaster. The second problem... Well, it was a problem. That's not the movie's fault, though. I'd say there were two isolated incidents of gore that I could have really done without. The rest of it was bearable.

Of the main cast, Craig Robinson really steals the show, although everyone else does a fine job as well. All of the actors making cameos as themselves were game to play jerks or cannon fodder, and I enjoyed the movie's ultimate message that selflessness and altruism are the qualities that really matter when it comes to our ultimate salvation. Still, you have to judge comedy on how funny it is, and while This Is The End provided plenty of smirks, it wasn't particularly hilarious. I'm really glad I saw it, and if someone asked me if I could recommend it or not, I'd say yes. But it's not something I'll ever want to watch again, and not just because of the panicked soccer game with a man's bloody head.

This Is The End: B-


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