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This is the End (2013)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/1/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/30/2013

If you ask most discerning film fans in what areas they would like to see Hollywood improve, I have a feeling that most of the answers would have to do with taking chances or experimenting. Even the most brainwashed movie enthusiast must admit that the majority of moderate-to-big-budget movies made in the United States are very homogenous and rarely feature any new or radical ideas. (And even when they seem to, astute viewers can usually point out which ideas have been done before. Thus, when something comes along which is actually doing something different, one should take notice. However, in the case of films like This is the End, one must remember that different doesn't always mean good.

This is the End opens with Jay Baruchel arriving in Los Angeles to spend time with his old friend, Seth Rogen. After getting a snack and playing video games (amongst other things), Seth convinces Jay that they should go to a party at James Franco's house. Upon arrival, they see old acquaintances like Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Martin Starr. They also see that familiar faces such as Michael Cera, Rihanna, and Aziz Ansari at the party. When Jay and Seth walk to the store to get cigarettes, there is suddenly a violent tremor and they witness several individuals ascending skywards in beams of blue light. They return to Franco's house to find the party in full swing, until the tremors hit there and several of the partygoers are swallowed by a massive sinkhole outside. Jay, Seth, James, Craig, and Jonah all barricade themselves inside Franco's house and attempt to decide what to do next. With little food or water, the group realizes that a true disaster is occurring and that they must find a way to survive.

This is the End goes out on a limb in two ways. First of all, you probably noticed that there were no character names in the above synopsis. That's not because the characters don't have names -- that's because each of the actors involved is playing themselves -- or, at least, a version of themselves. The movie "exists" in our universe and most everyone here is someone we recognize. There is obviously some truth to their portrayals -- Seth and Jay talk about being Canadian, they mention the movies that they've been in, something tells me that that Carl's Jr. scene is dead-on --, but some of the characterizations are also embellished, such as the idea that Michael Cera is a drugged-up sex fiend. (At least, I hope that's embellished.) This meta approach certainly gives the movie a unique edge and removes the usual "why are all of these people in this movie" feel ensemble pieces often have.

Secondly, we get a group of comedic actors placed in a decidedly unfunny situation. While This is the End is certainly a comedy, it doesn't always feel like one, as the deaths and destruction are depicted in a realistic manner and, for the most part, approached that way. Now, we've seen plenty of comedians tackle serious and dramatic roles, but the difference here is that these funny guys are placed in peril, but still retain their funny wits about them. Again, this goes back to the whole meta "what would these guys do in this situation" approach of the film.

So, kudos to This is the End for trying something different. Unfortunately, the destruction of L.A. isn't the only disaster going on here. This is the End certainly tries hard, as it delivers joke after joke, but over 90% simply aren't funny and despite the activity and destruction on-screen, the movie just lies there. Co-Written and Co-Directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who based it on a short they made in 2007), the movie relies on the sort of humor which the duo has shown before, but at this point, I think we've heard all of the pot jokes that we need to, and even in this new setting, it all feels very recycled. The unique set-up and premise are wasted on the usual series of scatological jokes which would surely delight a 12-year old, but only bored me. The sad thing is that everyone involved here seems like they would be sort of smart, but there is nothing clever to their humor. It aims for the lowest common denominator and never aspires to be more than that. When your big joke is the actors dressing up like their characters from Pineapple Express, then you know you're in for a long ride. Not only do the jokes falter on a regular basis, the attempt to work in serious Biblical ideas feels sac religious in more ways than one. And, as for the final joke, which is supposed to be the big pay-off? Not only is it not funny, it misses the chance to actually do something hilarious.

I know Iím not the first to say this, but can we get an official moratorium where Seth Rogen doesnít play himself (or a version of himself) in a movie for a while? And, aside from Goon, Evan Goldberg hasnít contributed to any good movies lately -- How about The Green Hornet? Or The Watch? -- so maybe he should take a few days off as well. Again, given the cast involved, I was looking forward to This is the End, and was very surprised by the lack of laughs in the film. Perhaps there were too many cooks in the kitchen or perhaps this style of comedy is now passť, but all I know is that I could wait for the end of This is the End.

This is the End wastes a Paul Rudd cameo on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 26 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source material. This is a dark movie, but the image is never so dark that the action isnít visible and the colors look realistic. The level of detail is very good, as we can make out textures on surfaces and the depth, most notably in the few exterior scenes, looks very good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.4 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good and make themselves known during the party scene and Jay & Sethís trip to the store. The surround sound effects during the destruction scenes are great, as we get very detailed sounds coming from the rear. These same scenes produce wall-shaking subwoofer action which helps to draw us in to the moment.

The This is the End Blu-ray Disc contains a lot of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. "Directing Your Friends" (7 minutes) has Rogen and Goldberg describing what it was like to be in charge of a set which contained many of their buddies. They describe what each of the main actors was like. "Meta-Apocalypse" (8 minutes) has the actors describing what it was like to play versions of themselves and where fantasy and reality mixed. "Let's Get Technical" (11 minutes) is where we learn that "The End of the World" was the title as the film was being shot. That aside, this piece focuses on the shooting of the film and the stunts. "Party Time" (13 minutes) looks at the party scene and the various actors who have cameos in that part of the movie. (This also touches on the actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves.) "The Cannibal King" (4 minutes) gives us alternate takes and some on-set footage from the most surprising cameo in the movie. "The Making of 'The Making of Pineapple Express 2'" (6 minutes) looks at the fake movie which is made during the movie. "Jay & Seth vs. The Apocalypse - The Original Short" (10 minutes) brings us the promo reel which was shot before the feature-length version was created. "Line-O-Rama" (13 minutes) has various versions of the dialogue taken from three scenes. "This is the Gag Reel" brings us 6 minutes of bloopers. The Disc contains eight DELETED SCENES which run about 15 minutes. Some of these are new, while others are extended versions of scenes from the finished film. (We get a lot more ad-libbing here.) "This is the Marketing" is broken down into eight sections, and consists mainly of short promotional videos which were made for the movie, as well as one TRAILER.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.