36. This is the End (R) - Runtime: 107 minutes
Starring: James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson
Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
This is by far the biggest surprise this year. I had my trepidations when I previewed this movie when it had a different title and very little was known about the plot. But instead of dumbing down the comedy, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg manage to whip up a smart and satirical send up of the disaster movie while also lampooning Hollywood's narcissistic celebrity culture.
Everyone plays themselves in this disaster spoof and here we find each actor playing an exaggerated version of themselves - James Franco is every bit the pretentious douchebag we believe him to be, Seth Rogen is all about getting stoned, Jonah Hill is a complete phony after getting nominated for an Oscar, Craig Robinson is a stereotypically black actor and Danny McBride is possibly the biggest dick in Hollywood. And this all plays out in a bona fide, real end of the world Apocalypse as foretold in the Bible. This was probably the best way to approach this movie - the end of the world is played straight - people are being sucked into the core of the earth and others are getting blue-beamed up to heaven. And in the middle of it all is 6 actors trying to survive holed up in Franco's fortress of a house.
The movie starts out well enough - there's a ton of great gags and jokes before the Apocalypse even hits - I could have watched another hour of just these guys hanging out at the party! And it continues as these guys survive where other non-worthy actors perished (funnily enough Aziz Ansari, who gets kicked into the abyss by Robinson and later Robinson recounts, looking for sympathy "I saw Aziz die!") All 6 egos in the room get larger and larger as the threat of imminent death looms and it results in a lot of hilarious scenes. I especially laughed at McBride and Franco's fight over a porno mag and masturbation - it had me in tears!
Everyone has their moment to shine - but Danny McBride clearly steals a lot of the scenes he's in simply because he's the driving force for all the misery everyone is in. Plus he's a dick and McBride plays that character very well. Jay Baruchel (whom I love and kind of wish he was a bigger deal) plays the least interesting character, but he's relatable because he's not in the inner circle of Hollywood actors - being Canadian can do that. But he has some great lines and his decision at the end of the movie involving late 90s teen heartthrobs was genuis.
Throw in an unexpected cameo by one of the hottest actors (both physically and metaphorically!) and you've got a winner. The movie went in a direction I didn't expect and it's all the better for it. I really, really loved this movie and I'm itching to see it again. There was one too many penis jokes in the movie, but besides that, this is by far the funniest film I've seen all year!
Rating: See It! Twice!