So this is what R.E.M. was talking about?

So this is what R.E.M. was talking about?

Yes, it’s the end of the world as we know it in this new comedy starring James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and a host of cameos, including Rihanna and a really grown up Emma Watson.

I never would’ve guessed that a comedy with this amount of comic talent would go in so deep in providing such a clear vision of the apocalypse. There were genuinely funny moments that made me laugh (I never knew a severed human head being used as a soccer ball could be mined for laughs), but they were surprisingly not in abundance. What made the movie pop for me was the fact that the filmmakers did not skimp on portraying the end of days in terms of the special effects and the set pieces. There were some genuinely tense moments as well as some “wow” moments. I, for one, was happy to see the demon dog from Ghostbusters working again.

While it was entertaining, I found I wasn’t laughing as much as I would’ve expected. And I love seeing stars play versions of themselves, whether in shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm or Episodes, particularly when they satirize the entertainment industry and themselves in the process. But maybe some of the scenes were too insider, I guess. At times, I felt like the actors were playing a scene for their own amusement rather than ours. Some bits that start off funny go on a little too long; there must be a rule of nature which states that masturbation jokes are funny for the first minute, after which time, it’s time to move on. And when considering last year’s 21 Jump Street (which I’m surprised to say made me laugh more), you wonder if Jonah Hill has a clause in his contract that his movies must have at least one scene where he gets f**ked up on drugs and makes an ass of himself. The movie predictably hits all those tired beats one would expect in a film with six guys trapped in a house together. But in terms of presenting these tired tropes, there’s one scene that could have been really cringeworthy, but they play it perfectly, and it’s one of the funnier moments of the film. I won’t spoil it, at least no more than the trailer does, but the aforementioned now twenty-year old Emma Watson appears at Franco’s home after the world’s gone to hell; she’s dirty, sweaty, clothes sticking to her…basically, she’s damn hot…and she’s staying in a house with six guys. Yes, the movie goes there, and it’s hilarious.

Another surprise is Craig Robinson’s performance. His last movie, The Peeples, didn’t do much to advance his career, if nothing else than so few people, including myself, didn’t go to see it. But he is given a lot to do here and he pulls it off. After watching him play the downbeat Darryl on The Office for many years, it was fun to see him cut loose here. And James Franco holds his own against the other comedic actors very well. But getting back to Craig, I think he pulls off the biggest surprise of the whole movie. POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: as the only black guy in the movie about the apocalypse and the deaths of millions of people, he doesn’t die! That alone makes this movie apocalyptic. 3.5/5 reels

 

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