Ten years ago I saw This Is The End for the first time. For those who lived a sheltered life, this was a creation from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg that saw nearly everyone who was a part of Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Pineapple Express all congregate onto one set, to make a completely outlandish and meta-comedy about themselves and how their supposed friend group would handle a biblical apocalypse. What was released turned into a pillar in the realm of comedic ensembles, a collection of efforts within a personal criticism of how fame and success alter friendships, especially when things go horribly, horribly wrong.
I don’t think a comedy like this will ever happen again. Not until another group of actors who traverse each other’s comedies comes along, and I don’t see many other actors having the capability to turn the mirror on themselves, see the lens audiences view these actors and stars through, and utilize this within a setting like the end of the world. It really did feel like the end of an era, and in a way, it was. Rogen and Goldberg created this universe of comedies with the help of Judd Apatow. They infused it with their friends, the stars of This Is The End: Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and James Franco. It was The Avengers but for people who aren’t introverted. There is a before and after connected to the actors’ careers. It’s a culmination of their work in comedy and the subsequent liberation to pursue their own creative projects once the movie was released.
I can’t believe it’s been ten years since This Is The End. I feel old. I once saw this movie as a youthful teenager, so full of life, with an optimism not yet extinguished from a cruel world. Oh well. Everything must end, I suppose.
After countless watches I’ve come to the conclusion that Rogen and Goldberg and all of their friends were bored with the idea of creating another world, new characters people would identify their careers by. Maybe, and this is all just what I assume here, they wanted to play around with their own world, their own lives. Be introspective and look at themselves from a different point of view. Or, they just wanted to mock themselves, create fictionalized versions of the kinds of actors they are. It takes a lot of confidence to joke about yourself, and getting so many other actors to play themselves is an impressive feat. Perhaps I’ve been thinking about actors and those around Hollywood in a way I shouldn’t be, as pretentious stars who take themselves too seriously. (A perfect look at this is Curb Your Enthusiasm.)
Having this level of cognition signals a huge development and level of maturity many would not expect from the guys who made a movie about high-school seniors trying to find a party or two stoners who stumble upon an entire drug kingdom. And yet, every single one of the movies Seth and Evan have been involved in gravitates towards a concept of friendship and a question of loyalty as life develops. Male to male relationships, the bonds that are formed through purely chaotic events and exactly how friendships are formed and maintained. There’s no question This Is The End touches on this as well, but in a way that allows the actors to poke fun at themselves and the kinds of people they may believe fame has molded them into. And in its own way the film doesn’t question loyalty as much as it questions these differing paths of friendship as life advances. This is conveyed in a light-hearted way of course. It’s a comedy after all, the fictionalization of each actor and who they really are and the nature of their friendship has to be extrapolated a bit. Danny McBride has to be the friend who nobody really wants around. Jay, the self-conscious one. Jonah, some sort of conniving star driven to pave a path for himself.
The projects this core group of actors explored differed. Danny McBride directed the Halloween re-reboot. Jonah Hill took on indie roles and directed Mid90s. James Franco, amidst his sexual misconduct lawsuit, all but disappeared. To reiterate, This Is The End truly was the end of an era. Every actor involved went on to new interests. And while I wouldn’t say the door is closed on them re-uniting for a project or film, This Is The End signified the end of this stage in all of their lives and opened the heavenly gates to what was next for each of them.
The truth lies within the nature of their friendship. The adaptation for This Is The End was Rogen And Baruchel’s short film Jay and Seth Versus The Apocalypse, a brief flash of two roommates stuck with each other during the end days. This created the vision of dissecting friendship, an examination of how external elements expedite the process of separation as individuals who have been intertwined for so long. The setting of the apocalypse is simply gasoline on a simmering flame, one that may bring out the absolute worst in people, especially as their emotional relationships are being tested. And this is not to say Rogen and Goldberg viewed these relationships as fraying, but instead they perhaps saw them as blossoming into different interests and passions. Rather than sulk or create some somber piece about friendships evolving or devolving, they decided to use themselves as the joke and get the entire world involved as well. Who ever knew I’d see a giant devil the size of a skyscraper have his penis sliced off by a heavenly beam and think about friendship?
The kinds of people each actor portrays isn’t who they really are. James Franco isn’t a great person, but the others seem to be true to who they are or at the very least, who they want to be. Life is about change and if Seth Rogen and company kept on churning out the same comedies every year they’d eventually become unbearable to watch. Growth is great to see. Sure, it’s sad to see an era come to an end, but remembering where you were for it and the joy it brought you, all the hours you spent on your couch, high and relaxed, laughing at what they made for you to enjoy, was well worth it.
That’s it, that’s the end.