“This Is the End” starred some of Hollywood’s funniest people playing themselves at the dawn of a Biblical apocalypse.
Look, there’s Michael Cera cast completely against type!
And Danny McBride is leaning into his image so hard he might pull a muscle!
Critics and audiences embraced the film, which soared past the $100 million mark domestically and snagged an 83 percent “fresh” rating at RottenTomatoes.com
The film hardly cried out for a sequel based on the dramatic third act, but the meta gags and all-male stylings (with apologies to Emma Watson) proved bittersweet.
We wouldn’t see these comedies again. Maybe ever.
Blame Judd Apatow and a certain pastry-themed franchise for the rude, crude but ultimately sweet style of bro-comedy.
The original “American Pie” (1999) and its sequels leaned into the “Porky’s” style humor, but each included a sense of sweetness and brotherhood. That made the gags both digestible and hilarious.
Meanwhile, Apatow assembled a murderer’s row of comic actors for “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” the 2006 comedy that made him a directorial star.
The cast? Steve Carell. Seth Rogen. Paul Rudd. Jane Lynch. Mindy Kaling. Elizabeth Banks. Leslie Mann. Jonah Hill.
More Apatow hits followed, including “Knocked Up,” and like-minded comedies flourished (“Step Brothers,” “Old School,” The “Hangover” trilogy, “Pineapple Express”).
“This Is the End” built on that bro comedy legacy. It also assumed our affection for the actors in play. This brand of humor – aggressive, unabashedly male and often overloaded with white actors – got pushed aside in the woke era.
Even “Hangover” director Todd Phillips admitted as much.
Now, screenwriters can’t pull off those cinematic pranks anymore. Comedies must abide by a new set of rules, making unexpurgated romps a thing of the past. Remember the “End” scene where Cera is being sexually serviced by not one but two women?
Chances are that moment wouldn’t make the final cut in our “enlightened” age, even though it’s very funny.
Translation? The death of the bro-comedy, at least the kind that made us howl for 15+ years.
Something else rushes to mind while watching “This Is the End.” Audiences might not embrace some stars playing fictionalized versions of themselves in 2022.
Rogen’s hard-Left politics, and overt nastiness toward conservatives, makes it harder to enjoy him on screen as “Seth Rogen.”
James Franco’s shtick also gets more scrutiny after he admitted to using his acting school to bed multiple students, which briefly derailed his big-screen efforts.
Plus, both Rogen and Hill have publicly attacked their own bro-classic, “Superbad,” suggesting they wouldn’t make that same movie today due to the new woke by-laws.
“This Is the End” isn’t a great film. The meta gags wear out their welcome, and the finale can’t match the giddy heights of those first 20 minutes. It’s still a film fit for a time capsule, marking the moment when rule-breaking comedies went into a forced retirement.