Occasionally – very occasionally – I write a review not to encourage people to see or even engage with a film, but to warn them about watching it. This Is The End is just such a film.
Now, if you’re one of those people who already possess a little insight into the origins of the film, you might well be saying at this point, “From the same guys who did Pineapple Express and Superbad? And you weren’t suspicious??” Well, I was. But against my better judgment I previewed it any way. Follow my summary of the plot and you’ll see what I mean…
Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Dany McBride and a slew of other American comedians play themselves, attending a present-day party at the palatial new Beverly Hills home of actor James Franco. During their revels Seth and his friend Jay Baruchel go outside to buy a pack of cigarettes and discover that the apocalypse is taking place. Flaming meteorites are falling from the sky, the ground is opening up providing glimpses of a fiery Hell and, all the while, various people are being snatched up into the sky by pillars of light. However the comedians find it hard to believe that it can be the Biblical ‘Last Day’ because they haven’t been taken to Heaven. They’re good enough to go, aren’t they?
So, going in, I had just the sort of premise for a film that a Christian review writer would love to see made. One that started as a joke but ended up taking the end of the world, our sin and God’s role seriously. I never expected a Gospel choir singing the praises of Jesus, but I did hope there would be some good ground for discussion. However any that appeared was quickly submerged in a sea of foul language, lewd dialogue and obscene visuals. Seth Rogan realizes that selfishness is the key thing keeping us from God’s presence … and Satan rapes Jonah Hill. See what I mean?
Let me assure you that for every scene you wish your friends might see there are five you hope they won’t. In a post-production interview co-writer/director Evan Goldberg bragged that he played a game during the filming where he tried to get as many cast members as possible to say, “No, I can’t do that.” The results reflect his efforts. This Is The End is a colossal wasted opportunity for the Christian in a world that actually needs to think more sincerely about the literal Hell awaiting those who ignore God. There are a lot of lines that your non-Christian friends will be quoting that are not worth remembering. But if you do end up in a conversation about This Is The End here’s one scene you might want to bring back to their memory.
Seth and his friends are sitting in the devastated remains of Franco’s home. The light is lurid from the Hellish fires outside where demons are stalking the surviving humans. They can’t help reflect on their naïveté:
Seth: “The apocalypse … wow. So God is real. Who saw that coming?”
Jay: “About 98% of the planet.”
I’d ask your friend if they would be just as surprised as Seth to find out their minority view actually reflected more self-confidence than solid facts. Then I’d suggest it would be better to sort out their response before they made Seth’s regret a first hand experience. Unlike the movies, there won’t be a chance to re-script on the day.
Release Date: July 16