DVD Review ‘This Is the End’: Buddy Binge

This Is The End

Due on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday from Sony, This Is the End had some of the best pre-release clips and online marketing of any film I’ve seen this year. Did the finished product live up to that? Not quite — but it’s still creatively crazy and offend-everyone funny.

Its fanciful yet shrewd premise involves a gang of Hollywood actors and pals playing themselves when they converge just as La-La — and apparently the world — is hit by what turns out to be the “Apocalypse,” i.e., the Earth-destroying end of times via fire, earthquake, monsters and the kitchen sink.

Naturally, who gets the last candy bar is of vital importance to survivors.

In short, how they frantically and selfishly react provides the gist of the humor, until they figure out that selflessness and goodness can get them beamed up to Heaven and not just safety, but paradise. Then some actual self-examination occurs — all touchy-feely, believe it or not.

That’s lot for any film to have on its plate and mix into a palatable meal of entertainment. This Is the End largely gets that job done, though some of its humor is of the “if I scream it’s funnier” variety, and many gags are self-referential in-jokes to a fault.

Our anti-heroes in brusque bromance are James Franco, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel. Also popping up are Emma Watson, Michael Cera and Rihanna, all as themselves (though Cera stands his persona on its head, much as Neil Patrick Harris did in the Harold & Kumar flicks).

This movie’s mirthful madness lies largely in its dialogue, though that must compete with ever wilder special effects depicting the carnage and chaos outside Franco’s door.

One of the funnier bits is when the guys in hiding pass the time by creating a homemade movie referencing their earlier works. Call it the world’s worst sequel, but it’s a kick.

Of course, it also underscores how much this film is a navel-gazing excuse for a bunch of buds to turn work into a guy-humor romp on company time. But I still applaud Rogen, who co-wrote and co-directed with Evan Goldberg, for the audacity (buoyed by their Hollywood cred) to get this nutty project off the ground and in the air, if not quite into orbit.

DVD extras include a commentary track by those two, a featurette about them “Directing Your Friends” and “This Is The Marketing” (get it?), showing some of their online-pitch strategies — the ones that made this a “must see” for me in the first place.

The Blu-ray also adds deleted scenes, a gag rell, a blooper reel and six featurettes, including the original short which inspired the movie.

Now about that candy bar . . .

— Bruce Westbrook


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