If ”Ghostbusters” met the MTV Movie Awards green room , the result might very well end up being ”This is the End”, the most outrageously fun, and most unashamedly self-depreciating smearing-stars comedy since the one where Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman had to drag around a heavy Terry Kiser prop.
Inspired by a short film starring Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel (made years before they were famous), the film’s by and large just an excuse for thenTV stars cum movie hit makers Rogen and Baruchel to round-up their now equally famous buddies so they can muck up on camera together. And in between all the mucking up and piss taking of each other, some Emmerich-sized special effects rub up against the funny.
There’s not much of a premise – the apocalypse hits while everyone is partying at actor James Franco’s house, and the survivors have to hole up in the house together – but where the gold lies is within the brilliant bouncings off of the cast, which includes – again, all playing exaggerated versions of themselves.
With their self-depreciating gags and juvenile digs at one another, Rogen & Goldberg’s screenplay totally lets it all hang out.. and the audience is in stitches as a result.
A lot of these actors have known each other for years – many coming up together on the series ”Freaks & Geeks” and it’s follow-up, ”Undeclared” – and their familiarity and comfortableness with each other shows in how well they interact. More so, they’re all aware of their public personas, and don’t mind bashing themselves. What might sound like the biggest vanity project is actually the farthest thing from it, what with these guys walking away from the film looking like Hollywood garbage.
I waxed lyrical and played silly buggers with superstar Seth Rogen (actor/co-writer/co-director/producer) and Evan Goldberg (co-writer/co-director/producer) recently. None of us were on cocaine.
Quite a few years between the short and the film? What delayed it?
Seth : Honestly, when we did the short film Jay and Seth Vs The Apocalypse, we never expected it would ever be a movie. It wasn’t until years later, and after many casual conversations about possibly making it into a movie, that it started to grow as an idea. And even then, we kept talking about it for years because we just couldn’t crack the story – ‘what could we do?’ ‘what kind of apocalypse would it be?’, ‘where would it go?’, ‘what would happen?’, ‘where does it end?. We couldn’t work out what we wanted to do structurally with it. It took years to crack it.
Evan : And even though it was Jay and Seth Vs. The Apocalypse, Seth and Jay (Baruchel) weren’t playing themselves in the short; I think we only named them Jay and Seth in the short because we were lazy. So the movie hasn’t got much to do with the short at all – besides the fact it involves an apocalypse.
Seth : Harder was coming up with what the movie was going to be about. We finally settled on the idea that you can still be redeemed after the apocalypse has hit.
Evan : But even with all that, the real important thing, that didn’t come to the last minute, was the friendship story.
Seth : And it was intimidating to write that, as well as the six storylines for each character; we’d never really done before.
Evan : It’s such a relief that we don’t have to do that on our next movie (Laughs)
Seth : I know, right? (Laughs)
Evan : We were constantly having to answer questions like ‘What about Jonah and Craig’s relationship, do they have one?’ or what about ‘Craig and Seth?’ It was tricky.
Just based on the U.S takings alone, the film has made its money back and then some. Congrats!
Seth : It’s crazy!
I was going to suggest, if it wasn’t working, you could just rename it ‘Man of Squeal’ – and see how that goes. The title would be somewhat of a nod to Craig Robinson’s character in the movie.
Seth : Hahaha! Man of Squeal!
You’re whipping Superman’s ass on Rotten Tomatoes, anyway.
Seth : We sure are! Seems like critical ratings are his kryptonite! (Laughs)
Evan : They’re all like ‘Man of Steel is…. OK.’ (Laughs)
Seth : Who wants to spend $300 million dollars on an ‘OK movie’? (Laughs)
”This is the End” is working, though. So is this the start of the franchise? Can you do an ’80s version now with the Brat Pack – ya know, Rob Lowe’s in the corner with his sax while a demon approaches?
Seth : We thought with the sequel, we’ll just underline the word ‘This’ in the title – THIS is the End.
Just like those ”Final Destination” movies, hey?
Evan : Yeah. How many Final Destination’s can there be!? (Laughs)
You guys are wearing extra hats on this movie, how difficult a juggle was that?
Evan : It was easier than writing and producing and not directing, because you’re not worried that someone’s gonna come in and fuck up everything. It’s all on me then; if I fuck it up, it’s all my fault.
Seth : Doing those two jobs without the third one is harder than doing all three jobs.
Evan : You’re on set just as long, as a producer, anyway; you’re there making sure the director’s doing what’s right. If you think they’re wrong and they don’t, that’s a really stressful situation.
Seth : If you’re neurotic, like we are, you’re just always paranoid that someone’s gonna make a decision that ruins everything. If we ultimately decided between the two of us, as directors, that something wasn’t going to work in this film, we just didn’t do it. Easy.But you can’t do that when someone else is directing the movie.
I couldn’t think of anyone else that’s been left out of the movie, in terms of the all-star cast…
Seth : Bill Hader. I really wish Bill could’ve done it. And Liz Banks.
Evan : I was very excited to work with her. Cameron Diaz was dying to do it too, but couldn’t do it when it shifted filming locations.
Seth : Ed Norton really wanted to be in it too, but couldn’t make it.
I remember interviewing Michael Cera a couple of years ago, and he is so not that guy you’ve painted him as in the movie – some sleazy coke-snorting lunatic. But I imagine that character is based on someone out there?
Evan : Yeah, as you said, he’s so not that guy, we just decided that ‘someone in this movie is going to be the worst piece of shit cokehead sexual deviant uncool out-of-his-head guy’ and picked him. We haven’t met anyone like that, not completely…though there was this one guy – remember, Seth, the guy bumming cigarettes that time? That guy was terrible! He was an actor, kind of a well-known actor. In hindsight, I never thought about it, but he was on cocaine.
Seth : I’m now going to think about all the people in my life I’ve encountered who I’ve now realized were on coke.
I’ve just watched the new Arrested Development episodes, which you feature in Seth…
Seth : Oh, I haven’t seen them yet.
… and I was thinking about the distribution model for it, which is straight to the internet. Can you ever envision making a film like ‘This is the End’ directly for someone like Netflix? Bypassing cinemas completely? For starters, I’m puzzled how you’d even make money out of a Netlfix deal – I imagine they get a cut somewhere?
Seth : I think they get a traditional deal, like a normal deal you’d get for a film. And I think they got paid well. It’s an upfront deal.
Evan : It’s just different schematics… rewatching on Netflix, as opposed to rewatching on Television.
Seth : I heard with House of Cards that they all got paid really well…
They’d have to; I mean, look at the cast ”House of Cards” attracted…
Evan : I have a friend working at Amazon who explained that they can pay filmmakers well too.
Seth : I’d be open to any of that but for me, with movies, I think it’s a communal experience. I think the best way to watch comedy is in a room with 300 other people and I don’t like what Spielberg and Cameron said recently that ‘soon people will only go to the movies to see giant action movies'; I think there’s something about watching a comedy with a room full of people, and I don’t think either of those guys have ever made a movie like that so they don’t know…
Evan : It’s like, when I watch my favourite comedy Spaceballs alone, it’s like ‘ha ha’ but when I watch it with friends it’s like ‘HA HA HA!’ – it’s a human thing; you see someone laugh, you say I agree, I feel the same way, and you laugh along with them.
Seth : I hope it doesn’t go too much into online streaming and Netflix, honestly…
Evan : Arrested Development is perfect for Netflix, obviously, because it started as a TV series.
Seth : Yeah, but I think for movies it’s dangerous. I can see why people want things to go this way, because these movies are cheaper to make and you can turn a profit on them, but it scares me.
There’s something about seeing a movie with other people – regardless of the genre.
Seth : Exactly. And I don’t agree with Spielberg and Cameron’s mentality that people only want to see big, huge movies on the big screen, it’s such an ego-maniacal way of viewing what they do. “People have to come see our $200 million dollar movies on the big screen; everything else, watch it at home! it’s fine! you won’t be missing out on anything'”
You guys are proving that mentality wrong right now, with “This is the End” doing super well in the states. In fact, the unsavoury word-of-mouth on “Man of Steel” could see you taking its place atop of the box-office.
Evan : I heard Warner Bros held back all those reviews on “Man of Steel” until 3-days before.
Seth : Really? They knew. That’s smart of them, that’s genius. By the time the bad reviews come out the movie is an unstoppable machine.
Are you guys working on anything else together at the moment?
Evan : We have our new project already, it’s called The Interview.
Seth : With me and James Franco.
Evan : Franco plays a schlocky reporter, and Seth is his producing partner, and they get an opportunity to interview the dictator of North Korea.
Seth : The three leads are me, Franco and Kim Jong (Laughs).
Evan : We will have a whole ton of cameos again.
When I first interviewed you we were discussing what your favourite film experience to date was. Can I ask you the same question now, a couple of years on?
Seth : This one was really special. We were in New Orleans, which is an amazing city, we really feel in love with it. But more so, it just turned out really great. I never expected this reaction. So many have come up to me and said it’s one of the funniest movies they’ve ever seen, and I never expected that. Not at all.
“This is the End” is now showing