Five brief thoughts on a recent film.
1) The worst thing that can happen when watching a film is to be constantly reminded of a better film that you could be watching instead. This is the End is from start to finish a film that wanted to be Shaun of the Dead. Rogan and Baruchel want to have the on screen relationship that Pegg and Frost have. They even put in some copycat sequences where early news reports are ignored and the big apocalyptic reveal comes during a trip to the corner shop (see point 5). The point was rammed home by the main pre-film trailer for the latest Pegg/Wright film The World’s End which comes out next month. If only I was watching that movie instead, thought everyone in the theatre.
2) Movie stars are incapable of mocking themselves. So whilst the rapture is taking place and the righteous are being drawn up to heaven in a beam of light, nobody at a Hollywood movie star party notices because they are all sinners and they all stay here on earth dancing and drinking. Great premise for a film where people playing themselves confront their own superficiality. Oh….wait…..except three of our stars get to heaven by taking the most facile actions to achieve redemption and when they get to heaven, there is a party there exactly like the party they just left. Seems like Rogan and Goldberg kind of chickened out of the satire there. Only Michael Cera satirised himself by playing a coked up asshole….and when in 5 years time TMZ reveals that Michael Cera on a career downswing has gone into rehab, this movie is going to seem a lot less funny.
3) If you are famous in Hollywood, you can only refer to each other by full credited names. Sample dialog: “What’s going on, Jonah Hill”? “Nothing much, James Franco.” If you didn’t use the full names all the time, what’s to separate you from an ordinary person?
4) If you haven’t seen this film, I have bad news for you. Danny McBride got into it. I mean, they clearly tried not to have Danny McBride in the film but he must have sneaked in there somewhere. I mean, they managed to keep him out of the first third of the movie and most of the last third (which is why he turns up half way through I guess without any previous establishing that he was at the party all along) and they tried to keep him at the edge of the poster so nobody would realise…..but, well, at least they tried. Seriously though, worst person in the film and moreover nothing his character (the character of “Danny McBride”) does in the film is interesting or funny. Can someone phantom edit this guy out like they did with Jar Jar?
5) Sooooooooo……Shaun of the Dead. You watched that film. You liked it. You tried to make a film just like it. And you cleverly understood that what people liked about it was that it mixed real comedy with palpable dramatic tension, emotion and peril. So did you do that in your movie? No…..no….not really but you kept in a few token scenes that were enough to let me know that was your thought process. Like the bit where Barushel walks through a burning smog past a children’s climbing frame and says something crushingly crowbarred in and unsubtle like, “Loss of innocence. Whoah. Really makes you think” and all those other scenes where Barushel and Robinson discuss friendship and sacrifice for like two seconds before going back to filming scenes where they drink urine direct from the source. My directorial input would be to make those scenes even bolder but printing the word DRAMA at the bottom of the screen in big white letters. You wanted a token gesture. What could be more token than that……..eh, whatever…..it’s not a bad film, it’s just……I wish I was watching The World’s End.