I’m going to have to give this one to the stoners. And no one could’ve predicted that. Least of all, me.
I cannot express how much I love Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. And I cannot express how much I hated The World’s End. It comes down to this: I didn’t show up for a fucking depressing drama about alcoholism (with a tiny bit of body-snatching thrown in). I showed up for a comedy. Meaning I expected to laugh more than once during the entire running time. I could forgive it a lot of things, but not being at all funny isn’t one of them.
Also, all of the dramatic beats were just regurgitated Hot Tub Time Machine. I was not a huge devotee* of HTTM, but as crude and ugly and completely lacking in an emotional center as that movie was, I can’t deny that it was quite funny.
I guess I’m going to have to go back and retroactively cut Paul some slack.
Meanwhile, speaking of Seth Rogen’s relentless self-identification as a marijuana aficionado commandeering every movie he’s in…
This summer the only film I planned to see but missed (and actually regretted missing) was This is the End. My disappointment in The World’s End just made that sting all the more. But then all of a sudden there’s this mysterious re-release to theaters, seemingly just for my benefit.
Honestly, this only won by a nose. Thankfully, it wasn’t completely unfunny. I chuckled consistently throughout, and there were a handful of big laughs for me. But I didn’t laugh quite as much as I’d expected. So I’m glad I saw it, but I’m also glad I got to use a freebie gift card for it. My reaction actually reminded me a lot of my emotional response to the third act of Pineapple Express (a film heavily referenced in this one). On the whole I liked Express, but towards the end, something started to bug me that I couldn’t define or explain. The closest I can come is this equation:
FUNNY + GORE/VIOLENCE + CREEPY BROMANCE + HEIGHTENED REALITY + ? X DANNY MCBRIDE = UNCOMFORTABLE
This is the End ratchets up that weird vibe to eleven for the whole movie. Also, I probably put a little too much thought into the Sunday school-level theology on display by spending most of the last hour half or so mentally rehashing old catechism questions about salvation through acts vs. salvation through grace. But I’ll still give it a positive review overall because it might have significant rewatchability once it gets to cable, and I genuinely liked that the somewhat serious theme of the movie involved a bunch of guys who believe they’re nice people, but they have to confront the fact that, in actuality, they are assholes. Unfortunately, I can relate to that a little too well.
* If I actually had a hot tub time machine, I would return to an era before it was obligatory for all comedies to include about 700 drug references. Seriously. Look, I have a fairly liberal, live-and-let-live attitude towards a certain level of recreational drug use, but I do not partake. And frankly I’d just as soon not hang around people who do. That’s a general guideline of life for me. So when all of the characters in your movie appear to be “funny junkies,” that limits the amount of sympathetic identification I can have for them. My favorite recent comedies have been the ones that at least confine the drug use to loser secondary characters.