Tuesday, 17 December 2013



It's odd that, just as 1997 gave us two volcano disaster movies, and 1998 gave us two asteroid disaster movies, 2013 has given us two apocalypse-based comedies. I haven't seen The World's End yet, but can state that even if it consists of nothing but Simon Pegg firing dead babies into the side of a shed with a trebuchet, it's going to be leagues better than this smug, offensive, needlessly profane, theologically confused and thoroughly unfunny parade of lowbrow smut, stoner idiocy and yelling, full of self-regarding narcissists who aren't nearly as funny as they think they are.

This Is The End basically concerns the alleged cream of Hollywood's comedy talent (Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel) as themselves, going to a huge party at Franco's house and behaving like obnoxious, arrogant dicks. Meanwhile God, not before time, sets off the Apocalypse: the good and saintly are magicked into Heaven while the selfish and worthless are left on a burning Earth beset by massive fire demons. Our heroes hole up in the house, shout, swear, smoke huge quantities of dope and continue to behave like obnoxious, arrogant dicks. Jonah Hill gets possessed, they sort-of spoof The Exorcist for a bit; meanwhile McBride becomes a cannibal king (and Channing Tatum is his bitch).

On one level it doesn't matter that the versions of Rogen, Franco and McBride on screen are so boring and repugnant that you simply don't give a toss what happens to them. That's part of the joke, they're sending themselves up. Halfway through the film everyone decides to ignore the Armageddon happening right outside the front window, and instead get massively stoned and make a sequel to Pineapple Express (a film that by rights should have ensured that none of these people were ever allowed on a film set ever again) on video. Oh, aren't we being clever and self-referential and hip and ironic?

Verbally it's a deeply offensive film. The "Parent's Guide" on the film's IMDb page suggests there are 330 uses of the F-word, which for a film that runs 105 minutes and 26 seconds equates to one F-bomb every 19.1697 seconds. Just to put that in perspective: that's half as sweary again as Scarface, in a film running over an hour shorter. Why? Because between them, these top-ranking A-list professional comedians cannot come up with one single joke, one well-timed sight gag, one glimmer of wit, so let's just swear a bit more. I murdered my inner Mary Whitehouse decades ago, but this movie somehow managed to reanimate her when Martyrs, A Serbian Film, I Spit On Your Grave, Cannibal Holocaust and Crack Whore Gang Bang #19 couldn't raise a blink from the dead old bat.

Let's not touch too heavily on the theological confusion: God torches the planet and takes the good people to Heaven, leaving the selfish, vile and vulgar scum behind (mysteriously including poor Emma Watson, who gets to shout a few F-words because it's funny and not remotely embarrassing). They can of course redeem themselves: at which point they end up in a Heaven where everything they want is theirs for the imagining. Our freshly redeemed heroes, who've spent their Earth years getting stoned and behaving like spoiled infants, arrive in the afterlife and immediately conjure up some spliffs and start dancing along to the Backstreet Boys. That's what Heaven is like? Drugs and shitty music?

It's utter rubbish: dull, loud, crude and coarse, no jokes, no laughs, nothing and no-one worth caring about. Sure, the giant CGI demon rampaging through the fiery rubble of Los Angeles makes for a decent apocalypse, but just as the love stories of Titanic and Pearl Harbor didn't trigger an emotional connection when spectacular disaster struck (because I'm not a 14-year old schoolgirl), so the hedonistic antics of Hollywood's top douchebags didn't make me give a damn when Satan was suddenly loosed upon them (because I'm not an oafish imbecile). One of the year's, and most likely the decade's, very worst.


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