Movie Review: This Is the End [2013]

This Is the End [2013]

This Is the End [2013]
Directors: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Screenplay: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Genre: Action/Comedy
Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride
Running Time: 107 minutes

“Something totally not chill happened last night.”

This Is the End is the type of comedy that has something for everyone. Its cast is a veritable who’s who of today’s most popular comedians (all of whom are playing themselves), there are a number of hilarious cameo appearances and, of course, seemingly endless raunchy jokes. Oh, and it’s an apocalyptic flick that isn’t afraid to show its fair share of gore.

When Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles, he’s expecting a weekend of sitting around, getting high and playing video games with his old friend, Seth Rogen. However, Baruchel is reluctantly dragged to a housewarming party held by James Franco where a large number of Rogen’s other, “new” friends are hanging out. Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera and Emma Watson are among the attendees, but Baruchel doesn’t really know any of them. Feeling left out, Jay asks Seth to take a walk with him to the convenience store for cigarettes.

It’s here where the apocalypse hits. Hellfire and brimstone.

This is the End [2013]

The two of them quickly head back to the party where everyone is seemingly oblivious to the end of the world happening outside. A massive sinkhole then erupts outside of Franco’s “fortress”, wiping out most of the partygoers.

Eventually just Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Robinson, Hill and an unexpected Danny McBride are left inside the house. The six of them band together in an attempt to survive the apocalypse.

As expected with a houseful of comedians, hilarity ensues.

This Is the End [2013]

This is easily one of the funniest movies I have seen in a while, and a lot of that goes to how willing these celebrities are to make fun of themselves. There is *a lot* of self-deprecating humor here, as everything from Rogen’s acting skills to Franco’s sexuality are the recipients of harsh — but hilarious — jokes.

The cameos are even better. Michael Cera damn near steals the show in his limited screen time by blowing countless lines of coke and engaging in illicit party acts. It’s Cera as you’ve never seen him. Another brilliant cameo — one which I will not spoil — happens near the end of the film when a Pulp Fiction Gimp-like character makes an appearance. You’ll never guess who’s under the mask.

Also, this movie gets major props for getting Emma Watson to drop an F-bomb.

This Is the End [2013]

This is the End may be self-indulgent, as it revolves around Rogen (who co-directed and co-wrote this) and his friends, but damn if it isn’t funny as hell. Every character has their fair share of great lines, with everyone playing some version of their own self (though Danny McBride is near full-on Kenny Powers here).

The horror elements come in the form of painful character deaths (an impalement and a severed head are just two notable examples) as well as some rather grotesque-looking demons and other creatures of Hell. The CGI is surpisingly well-done for the latter, though the characters are crudely designed (let’s just say some are so well-endowed that Dr. Manhattan would be jealous).

All of this ties together to form the best comedy of the year so far. I haven’t laughed this hard in a theater in ages, and nearly every line had the audience in stitches. Who knew the apocalypse could be so funny?

8/10

Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less [2011]

30 Minutes or Less [2011]

30 Minutes or Less [2011]
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Genre: Action/Adventure/Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

Everything about 30 Minutes or Less is just twisted. How much you enjoy the film rests largely on your morals.

The movie is based on a bizarre and horrifying true story about a pizza delivery man who was allegedly forced to rob a bank by a couple of thugs who strapped a bomb on him. In reality, the pizza guy died after the bomb detonated while he was surrounded by police. His death makes this disturbing story a tragic one, and it blows my mind how someone decided to turn this into a dark comedy.

That’s where 30 Minutes or Less comes in. The movie isn’t entirely accurate in regards to the real-life event, but it is strikingly similar.

Jesse Eisenberg, fresh off his stirring lead performance in The Social Network, amusingly takes on the role of Nick, the pizza delivery driver. Nick is a 20-something with seemingly no direction in life. He pisses off his best (and only?) friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari), after telling him that he slept with his twin sister. Things aren’t going well for him already, before the kidnapping even begins.

30 Minutes or Less [2011]

On the other side of the spectrum are Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson), a couple of redneck thugs who clean Dwayne’s father’s pool for $10/hr. One day Dwayne gets the idea to hire a hitman to kill his father, thereby granting him his inheritance. The problem is that the hitman costs $100,000, and the duo have nowhere near this much cash. This is where they come up with the fucked up idea to kidnap a complete stranger (in this case, a pizza delivery guy) and force him to rob a bank by strapping a bomb to his chest.

After Nick is held hostage, armed with the bomb and told of the plan, he turns to Chet to help him with this insane dilemma. Chet agrees to look past their differences in order to help his friend in need, and the movie quickly becomes a buddy action-comedy.

At a brisk 83 minutes, 30 Minutes or Less is a wild ride. The action is brash and in-your-face, and the comedy is dark and oftentimes hilarious. Eisenberg and Ansari are a surprisingly great duo, as they feed off each other nicely, with Ansari in particular delivering some great zingers. McBride and Swardson also play a formidable tandem, with the former channeling his inner-Kenny Powers to full effect. Michael Pena also has a surprisingly great role as the hitman, often stealing the scenes he is in.

30 Minutes or Less [2011]

I was initially intrigued by this movie partly because of its location. 30 Minutes or Less was filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is my old stomping grounds. I actually used to be a pizza delivery driver a little north of there, too, so I totally understand the feeling of dealing with shit customers (advice: don’t order delivery if you can’t afford a tip!). It was pretty cool to see the area again, even if the movie didn’t paint the city in the friendliest light. For that, check out the YouTube-famous Grand Rapids Lip Dub.

The bottom line here is this: if the idea of a real life tragedy being turned into a comedy upsets you, then obviously this movie isn’t for you. I found the movie to be a blast (no pun intended, I swear), even though I felt it started to fall apart near the end. Funny, profane and ridiculously fast-paced, 30 Minutes or Less is a joy ride well worth seeing.

7.5/10

Movie Review: Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]
Director: Todd Phillips
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

Due Date is a haphazard road comedy starring two unlikeable characters, a film that could have been far greater than its outcome. Robert Downey Jr. is Peter Highman, a high strung businessman who is trying to make it from Atlanta to Los Angeles in order to be there for the birth of his first child. At the Atlanta airport, he runs into Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), an annoying aspiring actor who inadvertantly causes a scene and causes both men to be put on the no-fly list. The moment that allows this to happen is not as funny as you would expect. With his bags (and wallet) still on the plane, Peter has no way to rent a car and drive to LA so he begrudgingly rides along with Ethan. Yes, this is a road trip movie.

I had fairly high expectations for this film, especially considering director Todd Phillips had a major comedy hit immediately before this in the form of The Hangover. I like Downey and Galifianakis, and the trailer made this look pretty funny. While Due Date has a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, it tends to rely too heavily on its weak script and trying-too-hard-to-be-funny scenes. It doesn’t help that both of the main characters are just so unlikeable. Zach G. is a very funny guy, but he isn’t given anything to work with here. His character, Ethan, is an annoying little twat who has nary a likeable trait. Downey’s character isn’t much better due to his holier-than-thou asshole tendencies, although he does provide the “best” moment in the movie when he knocks out a child.

Due Date [2010]

A big problem is that the obligatory “gross out” scenes are stupid and unnecessary. Who thought including a random segment with a masturbating dog would be funny? Apparently the dog learned this from Ethan, who has to masturbate at night in order for him to be able to fall asleep. WTF? I don’t get how someone thought this was a good idea.

What helps keep the movie watchable is its assortment of random cameos. RZA, Danny McBride, Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx all have bit roles in the movie, and they do their best to keep things fresh at crucial times in the movie.

It’s unfortunate that such a talented cast was given a poor script to work with. This is a fairly simple concept — two guys with opposite personalities taking a cross country road trip — and it is a premise that could easily provide hilarious obstacles along the way. Yet it is hard to get behind the unlikeable main characters that Due Date throws at us. Still, this isn’t a terrible movie, or even a bad one. It’s just that it could have been so much more.

6/10