This is a mirthless “comedy” that marked the first serious misstep from Apatow Productions, which seemed to have perfected the recipe for modern raunchy comedies through likeable three-dimensional characters and a dash of sweetness whilst avoiding over-sentimentality. The core concept to Drillbit Taylor — bullied highschool kids hiring an ex-military bodyguard who infiltrates their school to protect them — is promising, and ripe for satire. Its chief problem is lazy writing that not only forgets to insert any humour but fails even as light drama due to its flimsy caricatures of nerds who are simultaneously too stupid and shallow for the audience to relate. Even the charismatic Owen Wilson seems present solely for the pay-cheque. The film’s saving graces are that Wade’s throwaway romantic subplot is cute to see unfold, and it is always fun to see bully’s receive their comeuppance, no matter how ill-earned.
“A huge earthquake happens, who do they rescue first? Actors. They’ll rescue Clooney, Sandra Bullock, me. If there’s room, you guys will come.”
If Ocean’s 12 was an excuse for Clooney and his actor friends to hang out at his Lake Como villa, This Is The End dispenses with the pretence entirely as Seth Rogan, James Franco and friends play themselves riding out the apocalypse at Franco’s house. The main cast toy with their public perception, though the film’s best conceit is the suggestion that, if the Rapture were to occur, no one at a Hollywood house party would notice. Most of the cameos are fun but forgettable, the standouts being those who play against type — a shameless Michael Cera and a violent Emma Watson. One imagines the general lack of female presence is a product of the fraternal nature of the friendship group behind This Is The End, but the near total absence of women is disappointing and to its detriment. The script is peppered with hilarity and entertaining moments strung together by lazy writing and tired gross-out humour. Comedies like this typically lose traction the longer they run but, despite frequently lagging in the middle and perhaps aided by a wafer-thin plot which requires little conclusion, the film closes surprisingly strongly, leaving a better overall impression than I would have expected halfway through.