This Is The End (2013)

This Is The End (2013)

You know what I like? When films are meta and self-referential. When they’re not afraid to mock themselves or even parody themselves to some extent. I like it even more when actors are willing to poke fun at themselves on-screen. I mean, they must all be aware of their public persona and the way they’re depicted in the media. That’s why it’s great when they get involved with roles / pieces that poke fun at themselves, no matter how subtly. From Zach Galiafanakis‘ Between Two Ferns webisode series of interviews through to Bill Murray in Zombieland, where he answers “do you have any regrets?” with “Garfield, maybe”. I like it. So, how do you make a film about the rapture and the end of days a bit comical? Well, how about getting some of the industry’s current comedic frat-pack and throwing them into the film… as themselves…

This Is The End (2013)

Yes, This Is The End tells the tale of how the world will end – all fire and brimstone whilst the good are raptured into heaven and the rest of us are abandoned here as the Earth becomes engulfed in flames and is dominated by demonic entities. So where does our film decide to position itself for this apocalyptic event? James Franco‘s house warming party of course. And who else is there? Let’s throw in Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride. Not enough for you? Then how about Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and a whole heap of others. Yes, this is one star-studded film. But don’t for a second think back to the appalling Movie 43 as a reference point here. Thankfully, This Is The End is a far better movie… and is actually rather funny!

This Is The End (2013)

What’s most pleasing about the film is the rapport and on-screen dialogue between the stars. Some are really sending up their characters and acting in a totally atypical way, such as Michael Cera, whilst others embrace how the public perceives them, such as Seth Rogan and James Franco. Rogan has jokes thrown at him about his wooden acting, jarring laugh and inability to play a different character, whilst Franco embraces this artsy, higher-than-thou attitude he’s sometimes painted as having owing to his personal dalliances with trying to acquire every degree under the sun in his spare time. It is simply very, very funny to watch. All of the actors work brilliantly as an ensemble – quite how much is ad-lib and how much is scripted, I’m not entirely sure, but it all works seamlessly.

But what of the plotting? What starts out as a somewhat loose and meandering premise: “oh it’s the end of the world”, suddenly becomes quite compelling and I genuinely found myself enrapt in the world of the rapture. I wanted to know how Franco et al. were going to get out of this situation! Things also got a little crazy when the film started to actually spend money on special effects… you see, This Is The End is quite low tech for the most part; relying heavily on the rapport between the characters and their humorous dialogue. This is great, and thankfully works… but the film turns on its head in its final act. You see, what started out as a humorous little romp about the end of the world turns into something rapidly approaching horror.

This Is The End (2013)

Yes, you read that right… This Is The End actually brings in some effective scares and beautifully animated demons and nasties into the mix. I liked this. Even if it did make me think I was watching the dog-demons from Ghostbusters at one point. I found this change of pace and tone to be quite refreshing and really kept me entertained until the bitter end. The movie doesn’t market itself this way, which is a bit perplexing, but nevertheless – I enjoyed it!

This Is The End (2013)

That brings us to the humour… what of it? As I’ve alluded to until now, the humour works and had me laughing. For the most part. Maybe I’m getting a little too long in the tooth nowadays, but drug jokes / gore jokes / dick jokes don’t make me laugh as much as they used to. And there are a lot of those jokes in here. If you’re not a fan of Superbad, Pineapple Express or any other of the films associated with Seth Rogan and chums, you’re probably not going to be too impressed. Thankfully, for the movie, I am for the most part. But this is probably the film’s biggest weakness, because if you’re not a fan of this humour, you’re going to strongly dislike the movie itself. This is a shame as I genuinely think you should nip out and see this whilst you can.

This Is The End can stand proud: it’s a movie that lives up to the sum of its parts. It doesn’t collapse under its own star power and doesn’t bill itself as the “greatest ensemble cast ever assembled” like that Movie 43 abomination. What you have here is a sharp, funny and mildly horrifying take on the end of the world. It won’t be to everybody’s tastes, that’s for sure, but if you’re at least a fan of some of the stars in this movie then it’ll definitely appeal to you. I can quite confidently state that this may be the best comedy of 2013 so far… but unless the end of the world comes tomorrow, this may yet change… stay tuned!

“It’s the end of the world as we know it”… Well, that’s what REM sang a good while ago. Sure, the rapture looks horrific in This Is The End and I wouldn’t fancy squaring up to any of those demons. But I’m trying to wonder what I’d rather be faced with… a lifetime of fire and brimstone, being tracked down by fierce looking demons, or being forced to watch and re-watch Movie 43 over and over again… Hmmm… just how hot are those coals again??

Phage Factor:

4 Star

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Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43 (2013)

Forgive me Phagelings for I have sinned. I come here humbly seeking your forgiveness for breaking my own commandments. I read other people’s opinions before coming to form my own. I know, it’s a sin tantamount to spitting the wine back after Communion. Heinous behaviour. What’s more, all of the reviews were overwhelmingly negative. And by negative, I mean brandishing the film an abomination not suited for the realm of men. And after seeing Movie 43, I am in need of forgiveness… as is everyone else involved in bringing this bloated mess of a film to our screens.

Just look at this list for a second... Look at it.

Just look at this list for a second… Look at it.

Well, I think that sets the tone well for the rest of this review right? You’re in no way confused about where I’m taking this. Movie 43 is quite simply one of the worst films committed to celluloid. But I ignored the prophecising from other reviewers and Rotten Tomatoes. How could a film that featured such an overwhelmingly fantastic cast be doomed to fail? It was like the Lehman Brothers of the film world. You’re factoring in A-listers such as Richard Gere, Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts… and the list goes on. And on. And on. So how can a comedy film like this turn out to be a dud? By having absolutely no laughs and nothing to get excited about.

This is my pose for the whole of the film. Yes Richard, you should be hiding away.

This is my pose for the whole of the film. Yes Richard, you should be hiding away.

Movie 43‘s very loose plot toys around with a group of kids looking for a fabricated film called Movie 43 to prank a younger brother. But as they delve into the depths of the internet they discover some very weird and odd movies that are already out there. These weird movies feature a date between Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman where Jackman has a scrotum grafted to his neck, but no-one can see it but here, and a skit about Johnny Knoxville capturing a leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for Sean William Scott to make up for sleeping with his girlfriend. I know right? Pure comedy gold. Not really.

The problem with the film is two-fold: 1) it’s not funny, and 2) it’s pure nonsense. Let’s deal with point 1 first shall we? As regular readers will know, The Phage is British. Over here in the UK we have a very dark sense of humour that most Americans can’t comprehend. Our humour is awkward, situational and sometimes grossly offensive. All of this is fine in my books – it just works and makes me laugh. However, Movie 43 takes the last part of that tripos and ratchets it up to 12. It’s so puerile and offensive that even I sat there thinking “wow… that’s crossed the line”. My line is a dot in the distance, but it still raced over there, spat on it, and jumped over. Probably making some weak fart joke as it went. The jokes were hokey and were probably best suited to a 5 second gag on some other terrible TV sketch show. The phrase that came to mind for a lot of these “pieces” was flogging a dead horse. It make its weak attempt at a joke and then drove it into the ground so much that it was nothing but dust. Horribly unfunny dust.

I felt like crying too Emma. It's OK, don't fret...

I felt like crying too Emma. It’s OK, don’t fret…

And let’s jump to number 2. I can also tolerate a nonsensical plot. I’m not averse to it. Sometimes comedies just have a ludicrously dumb plot: Dude! Where’s My Car? is self-explanatory, Freddy Got Fingered is just dumb and Dumb and Dumber is about taking a suitcase to a girl in Aspen. They don’t have to be rocket science. But the overarching “plot” was as bad as the faux-films they were watching. It just had no redemptive qualities whatsoever. OK, I tell a lie – the one time I laughed was during the credits’ outtakes. So credit to you Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott for breaking my icy veneer.

Then, to add insult to injury… the film just keeps going. You reach the outtakes and reflect on how you’ve just squandered 90 minutes of your life in a cinema when you could have been staring at a curbstone in the car park instead, but then it just… keeps… going. Another sketch is thrust into your retinas about some bizarre animated cat and how much it hates Elizabeth Banks. Why? What have I done to deserve this?

Yeah, I think you can keep that Oscar speech in your pocket for the foreseeable future.

Yeah, I think you can keep that Oscar speech in your pocket for the foreseeable future.

And let’s get one thing straight here: I’m not an uptight Brit. If I am, then so too is everyone else in the audience that was duped into spending their cash watching this train wreck of a film. If you think back to last year, you’ll remember our worst film of the year: Keith Lemon The Film – we even gave it our 2012 Phagee Award for being so awful. Well, Movie 43 is its American big brother. Sure, its cameos are from international film stars and it looks a hell of a lot slicker, but underneath the veneer its the same horrible, bent-out-of-shape mess of a movie…

As you can probably tell, Movie 43 isn’t our hottest pick of the year. In fact, I’d already mark it up for being the worst movie of 2013 and we’re only in February. The film will solely appeal to 12 year old boys who think jokes about periods, crap and scrotums are literally the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. No doubt it’ll become like Playboy or Penthouse and will be passed around under desks on a burnt DVD so everyone can be in on the joke. But at least Playboy or Penthouse would teach them sometime about life.

But what about the rest of us with a mental age of at least 14? Well, my simple advice would be to wait until the film’s released on DVD. Find it. Don’t buy it. And possibly slash the case so it gets returned to the warehouse to prevent someone from seeing it. Imagine it’s the tape from The Ring. You wouldn’t want anyone to suffer would you? Because then you too would be seeking forgiveness. Not for breaking commandments or for starring in one of the worst films of the decade, but for dooming someone to 90 minutes of sonic and visual abuse. In fact, give them the tape from The Ring instead. You’ll have less to feel guilty about.

Phage Factor:

0.5 Stars