Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson
Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Who would have known that humanity's most tender and lo....
Sorry. It seems that, in true Hollywood style, we don't just have one film about an apocalypse this summer and a ruined party; we have two. Just like the 'Oblivion' - 'After Earth' pairing, 'White House Down' - 'Olympus Has Fallen' pairing, (and the list goes on and on) - films are aping each other's plots/characters/ideas. In this version of the apocalypse, questions of morality, mortality and just plain stupidity are tackled in a light-hearted and aired out way. A thinly veiled stab at satire is thrown forward - and it succeeds, but only in a few brief scenes. It's a comical reflective look at what the world of the celebrity could become during the end of our time - but endearing doesn't garner enough. You'll see this film and want more - probably returning to other comedies that the cast are famous for afterwards.
It's a shame because we really love Seth Rogen, Franco, and Hollywood's latest round of the 'frat'-club. They've given us some great funny and offbeat moments that we can look back on fondly - Jonah Hill in '21 Jump Street' was brilliant, for example. But this inflated comedy seems like they want it to work too much - it has moments that shine through, especially a few brilliant scenes with Michael Cera and Emma Watson, but it never reaches a consistency. The actors all play themselves - or rather, a version of themselves where they play up certain characteristics that they are known for. Some of them are touching such as Jay, others are the typical-villains-we-love to hate such as Cera, but some feel like the boat has been pushed out a bit too far, or just left moored in a different bay.
The idea of the film was to avoid a large budget - something that Rogen and Goldberg wanted to distance themselves from after 'The Green Hornet'. So, they hired their friends, and companies/crew that were looking to prove that they could provide quality entertainment but at a fraction of the cost.
We've never gotten high or incredibly drunk - but we're betting the movie would have been that much more enjoyable if we had. The narrative, as expected, was completely shot.
It begins, indirectly, with a house party at Franco's house. Music blaring, art deco and just plain weird going on all over the house - with half the house in a drug fuelled state. Then the unthinkable happens as the apocalypse begins - which, unsurprisingly again, seems to affect the celebrities last in Franco's hyper-mansion. As the chaos begins, people are either left on Earth to die or sucked up into heaven - leaving those who are left on Earth to face grisly fates and have a good old reflective session. Those actors who survive the initial cull by God/Mother Nature/Physics (fire does get to some people, as do the wonderful powers of gravity), then barricade themselves in the mansion, using Franco's pieces to blockade the doors - which includes a giant phallic shaped object. Then, as the apocalypse wears on, they squabble, ponder and even resolve their differences.
It's not that the film is bad - it's just not that good. It's passable - the message it attempted to deliver, sending up the actors as well as the apocalypse blockbuster genre, wasn't a bad one. But it's been done before - and more importantly, better. The jokes provide some amusement and the plot, despite the weaker script, rolled forward. As the film wore on though, the only two bigger-than-life characters who got better were Franco and Hill, while the rest middled in the mire of the opening sequence's jokes.
One thing we fell in love with - the nature of the ribbing. None of the actors appear portrayed or dismayed at all to be sending up their lives, as well as others making fun of them. But they could have run the gamut a bit more - none of the actors push that ribbing further out than a few-not-so-deeply self deprecating jokes. The direction is also lacking - it seems as if Rogen and Golberg just wanted to take potshots at a film attempt and fill it with gags.
There's a few brilliant ones though - such as McBride and Franco arguing over an adult magazine. A few moments worthy of a chortle or a guilty laugh aren't enough to have you splitting your sides - but it'll carry you through the film with easy entertainment. It feels like the essence of the Larry Sanders show put into a film with current comedy 'tastes/etiquette' - but it never quite touches the same level of greatness.
Sharp biting satire it isn't - but, as we always look at here - it never really meant to be.
However, topical jokes and a slightly mistaken self retrospective relegate this to a rental only- but considering the closing of most rental places as we head into this next decade, I'll go with download/stream. Hey, maybe someone should do a send up of the rise of the internet streaming?
What the Mr. Thought:
It's not the worst film you'll ever see. That's a compliment, sort of. If you love the work of Judd Apatow (and I do mean, all of it and not just one or two films), chances are - you'll probably like this. But for the rest of us, this mash-up is a film to avoid - or see if nothing else is on. There's talk of a sequel - and I've got my fingers crossed that the guys find some safer footing and go deeper into their exploratory send up of themselves. It shines and it has moments - enough to warrant a sequel if the numbers come in. We love the actors themselves, however - a few of them really carry this film away from the numerous downfalls. But this, their finest hour, it is not.
At times, you will feel like you're watching a long joke that you may not be privy to - a lot of 'in' references that appear to make the cast react hardly gained any reaction from the audience. I suppose a lot of this comedy comes down to age - those below 24 might find this style of comedy more appreciative and would be more responsive. It's definitely targeted - it's not a film for all. We're going against critical/mainstream opinion here - but we're holding out hope for the future because as these stars mature, they seem to get better and better.
But you didn't hear that from us,