So, I finally got around to checking out This is the End.
The reviews for this movie were surprisingly pretty good across the board, and ultimately, I agree with them.
SPOILERS abound. Sorry. If this was a longer review, I’d definitely make an actual Spoiler Section, but since I’m capping it at baby — well, maybe toddler — length, that’s just not going to happen. So, yeah, warning: do not read this if you haven’t seen this movie.
Jay Baruchel reluctantly tags along with pal Seth Rogen to James Franco’s big, Hollywood party . . . and then all hell breaks loose. Pretty much literally.
1. For being a quasi film buff with a blog almost entirely dedicated to nerdy pop culture, I kind of hate recommending movies to people. Or, at least, I hate being there while they watch said movies — because there is nothing quite so awkward as the two hours of unimpressed silence you’ll experience as you try to enjoy the movie you used to love, back before you felt the full weight of your friend’s newfound disdain creeping across your skin. You can actually sense them questioning your taste in everything, thinking back to any recommendations you may have offered on any subject and clearly wondering if they should ever listen to you again in the future. It is an entirely unpleasant sensation.
Comedies are easily my least favorite type of movie to recommend because a person’s particular brand of humor is, I think, one of the hardest things to pin down. Will your friend think this is edgy and outrageous and awesome, or will they think it’s offensive bullshit? Will they go for this easy-to-watch silly fun, or will they wonder why they wasted their time on this dumb as shit film? I bring this up because while I liked This is the End, I would really hesitate to suggest it to other people without having a very good sense of which way their funny bone leans.
So, yeah. For the most part, I laughed really hard at this one — I wish I had jotted down exactly which parts made me crack up the most because I’m having difficulty remembering specific scenes now. But I’d say the greater majority of the material really worked for me. Cause, hey, everyone has a crass streak, right, and I love me some Rapture related giggles; I can’t lie.
The main part that didn’t work for me?
At some point, when I feel like spending several hours tackling a very difficult subject — which is to say, not now — I might try writing an essay about how badly I think rape is currently being handled in Hollywood. (Particularly in television, but also in movies, I’m sure.) And the whole demon rape thing that leads to Jonah Hill’s possession just completely made me uncomfortable. On one hand, we didn’t actually have to watch an explicit rape scene — although we did get the shot of Demon Schlong — so I guess that’s good. On the other hand . . . it’s still a rape that’s played for laughs, and that just doesn’t work for me.
But I also had no problem with the scene where Emma Watson overhears the guys awkwardly talking about making sure she feels comfortable in a house full of men, and mistakenly believes that they’re planning to rape her. Some might view this scene in poor taste, too, but I thought it was hilarious, maybe because no one actually does rape her (or ever intends to), or maybe because Emma is never played as a victim and, in fact, immediately gets the drop on all of the guys and steals their shit before getting the hell out of dodge.
So . . . I don’t know. It’s easy to say that rape jokes are never funny, and I’d like to believe I’m the kind of person who unequivocally believes that, but I also try to be honest whenever I can, and while one joke made me cringe, another made me laugh. It’s a topic that deserves a lot more discussion but, for the present, I’m going to move on.
2. One of the things I really do like about this movie — and that took me by surprise — is that there’s this friendship at the heart of it that pretty much everybody in the audience can relate to.
I didn’t really come to this male-centric apocalypse comedy starring guys known primarily for frat boy and stoner humor with the expectation of relating to anyone, but I think pretty much everyone’s had to deal with the experience of growing apart from someone who you once considered a good friend, especially when you have to meet their new, completely obnoxious friends. For reasons that are hardly shocking, I most identified with introvert and LA outsider Jay Baruchel in this film, but he’s on the wrong side of things a lot of the time, too, and I enjoyed that. For a movie that mostly features actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves, there’s a weirdly surprising amount of decently well-balanced characters. (Well, except for Danny McBride, of course. He’s just evil.)
3. There are also a shit ton of celebrity cameos, and those celebrities mostly die horrible, horrible deaths.
Yeah. That was pretty enjoyable. Schadenfreude rules.
4. Craig Robinson is the only non-cameo black guy in the movie, and he — well, I guess I can’t say the black guy lives because NOBODY actually lives, but Robinson makes it to Heaven. Good for you, buddy. Although I bet Aziz Ansari is pissed. (Although, admittedly, Robinson just left him hanging there over a cavernous pit of doom. It was Kevin Hart who actually kicked Ansari to his fiery death. Still. I’d be annoyed.)
5. James Franco dying the exact way his character would have died in Pineapple Express 2? Perfection. Also, I absolutely loved their no-budget homemade sequel, even though I never watched the first movie. (I had no interest. I still don’t.)
6. Finally, this film is absolutely a Bechdel Fail — but I’m actually totally okay with that. It just makes me want to see more post-apocalyptic comedies starring all women. Hmmm, who would I cast in that? Who would you cast in that?
Danny: “Hermione just stole all our shit.”
Jay: “The power of Christ compels you!”
Jonah: “Guess what? It’s not that compelling.”
Jonah: “Can I have that Milky Way?”
James: “You can’t have the Milky Way. It’s my special food. I like it.”
Seth: “I want some of the Milky Way.”
Craig: “I’d be pretty bummed if I didn’t at least get a bite of the Milky Way.”
James: “Your mama’s pussy was the canvas. Your dad’s dick was the paintbrush. Boom! You’re the art.”
Jay: “Thank you, James Franco.”
(about James Franco using porn magazines instead of internet porn)
Danny: “What the fuck is wrong with you, Franco? You have iPads all over the godamn walls in your house, but you jack off like a fucking pilgrim.”
James: “That’s right, man, I like to read!”
Danny: “Seth, that’s some of the better acting than I’ve seen in your last six movies. Where the fuck was that in Green Hornet?”
(to Seth Rogen)
Guy at Airport: “You always play the same guy in every movie. When are you going to do some real acting, man?”
Jonah: “A huge earthquake happens, who do they rescue first? They’ll rescue Clooney, Sandra Bullock, me. If there’s room, you guys will come.”
Craig: “You’re already in the hole! It’s too late for you!”
Seth: “Look, man, if you stopped eating gluten, you’d feel way fucking better all day. Whenever you feel shitty, that’s cause of gluten.”
Jay: “That’s not true –”
Seth: “It is!”
Jay: “Who the fuck told you not to eat gluten?”
Seth: “It’s true!”
Jay: “You don’t even know what gluten is.”
Seth: “I know what fucking gluten is.”
Jay: “You have no idea what gluten is.”
Seth: “I do know what gluten is! Gluten’s a vague term. It’s used to categorize things that are bad. Calories, that’s a gluten. Fat, that’s a gluten.”
Jay: “Somebody just told you ‘you probably shouldn’t eat gluten’ and you’re like ‘oh, I guess I shouldn’t eat gluten’.”
(eating burgers from Carl’s Junior)
Seth: “Each bite is better than the previous bite. Gluten!”
Jonah: “Dear God, I’d like to pray to you for a second. It’s me, Jonah Hill, from Moneyball.”
There are a few small bits that didn’t work for me — and I really wish Jonah Hill had gotten himself possessed in basically any other way — but overall, I liked this one. (Except . . . now I have the Backstreet Boys stuck in my head. Motherfucker.)
Crap, that’s hard. I might go James Franco on this one, just because I was so surprised that I actually liked him. Mean but true.
Be a good person and win with a certain measure of grace. Even if you’re literally in the process of being raptured up to Heaven . . . be good, or else your ass is gonna get dropped, eaten by cannibals, and sent straight to Hell.
3 thoughts on ““I Don’t Wanna Die at James Franco’s House.””
I’d have to see the film, but off of your description, it sounds like I’d probably be fine with the Emma Watson rape misunderstanding and not fine with the Jonah Hill rape joke.
The first one is a fairly well-worn comedy trope where an innocent conversation is taken for something horrible – you could replace rape with murder or something else horrible, and the joke would be the same. There’s even a trope page for it.
The second one just sounds like rape itself is the joke, because either rape is hilarious when a demon is the perpetrator, or when a guy is the victim, or a combination of the two. I guess you could argue that the absurdity of demon rape would make it funny and impossible to take seriously, and that makes it not offensive or something. Although I don’t really think it works like that, and even if it did, The Evil Dead, Jack Frost, and probably a bunch of other low budget horror movies have waaay more absurd examples. (Oh god, I feel so unclean for knowing that.) If it’s supposed to be funny because a male is the victim, then that scene can go die in a fire, because seriously. Not cool, movie, not cool.
To be honest, I don’t really feel like any topic is off-limits or too dark for comedy, including rape. But I don’t think it’s funny either, in and of itself. So the jokes about it that work are using rape to talk about something else. Also, the victim isn’t the butt of the joke. (I have similar opinions on jokes about race, gender, and sexuality.)
Uh, yeah, so that’s my overly long and underinformed opinion on the difference between those rape jokes. I’ll probably see the movie at some point, and then I’ll come back to say whether I still agree with what I said.
I like your overly long and under-informed opinion. You basically said what I think I wanted to say, especially when it comes to nothing being too off-limits for comedy and what you’re using those subjects to talk about. I’ve always had some trouble articulating that. (It’s something of a failure for a writer to admit that, but oh well.)
Also, every time someone mentions Jack Frost in any context, I think of the Michael Keaton family comedy of the same name, which I’ve never actually seen, and yet my brain always does an automatic double-take anyway, like, “WHAT happened in that movie?”
For that reason, I’m a little delighted that they have the same name.