This Is The End

This Is The End is a riot. Well, not so much a riot as an apocalypse. The movie’s premise is that Jay Baruchel (playing a semi-fictionalised version of himself) – and who’s in self-imposed exile from the Hollywood he finds distasteful – flies to Los Angeles to visit his old Cannuck buddy Seth Rogen (also playing a sort-of- himself). Seth’s rather more enamoured of the Southern California lifestyle, and he drags Jay, quite unwillingly, to a party at the home of James Franco (also playing… you get the picture?). The party is full of ridiculous self-referential celebrities, all playing ridiculous versions of themselves, (stand outs – Michael Cena and Channing Tatum) it’s like a Who’s Who. And then the Apocalypse strikes.

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So: some die and some survive, and those who survive are basically left to verbally roast each other before the demons do. This Is The End is also completely daft, this is also completely crass, this is also completely cringe-worthy at times, but it’s also laugh out loud. So it’s worth a squizz if you can bear the penis jokes. Locations wise, although there are some establishing shots on Melrose in LA, This actually filmed in Louisiana.

Admission

Admission draws a very, very fine line between comedy and tragedy. It stars Tina Fey as an admissions clerk at a top university. She’s lead to believe that a student at a local farm college is the son she gave up for adoption when she was young. Hilarity ensues as she tries to bend the strict rules and secure a place for this gifted but unusual kid at her prestigious school.

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Except of course hilarity doesn’t. The pain of handing over her child, the drama and the guilt and the devastation and the loss, are all too pertinent. There are some funny moments, and afterbirth gags and pratfalls and ditzy car-smashes and the like, but actually it’s all just a wee bit depressing. Admission filmed at Princeton, which is afforded outsized product placement throughout the film. I can see why they thought this would be a good idea. But it isn’t; not at all really.

This is 40

Thirty nine seems a loooonnnnng time ago to me now. Nevertheless, I still more than empathised with the trials and tribulations of Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) in This is Forty. Unruly kids, sagging bodies, spiralling debt, self-employed in an economic crisis – life, as the Guardian review succinctly puts it, has devolved to “a depressing kind of reconstituted virginity for married types who increasingly find themselves too exhausted for sex, and too guilty and loyal for the extramarital sex of their daydreams.” So, yup, that’s us, in a nutshell.

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This is Forty is long, witty and heartfelt. Beyond my rather sad self-identification, it does of course feel like a personal film, really because it is. Leslie Mann is Judd Apatow’s wife, the kids are his kids, the extended friends and family are his friends and family. It was even shot in Judd Apatow’s neighbourhood, just 9 houses down from where they actually live. This is Forty has some cracking supporting performances too – Melissa McCarthy, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Kirsten Wiig and most surprisingly, Megan Fox, who’s actually completely brilliant here. (Her scene when she admits how she’s been making extra money is priceless.) Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the chaotic, extended, dysfunctional collection of humanity on screen, because, folks, life’s like that, and it’s hard and it’s funny and it really is worth living.

Wanderlust

I worry about Jennifer Aniston. Not a lot, but often enough. She seems nice, really. She’s a very talented woman, no doubt, and she’s pretty too. She was screwed over by that tramp Angelina and she finally seems to have found love again….. But I really wonder who she’s got advising her about movie roles, her career path, and bankability and stuff like that. Because the last three Aniston vehicles I’ve seen – Horrible Bosses, that truly awful one with bobble-heady Adam Sandler, and now Wanderlust – weren’t even B-grade experiences. They were utter, utter trash.

Wanderlust is about two over-achieving Manhattanites (Jen reunited again with cute, slobby Paul Rudd) whose marriage comes under serious threat when they lose their jobs and apartment and are forced to relocate to a free-love commune in rural Georgia.

So I can see how the premise kind of worked, in theory at least: naked old folks are funny, I suppose. Plus, it’s got Alan Alda and moonfaced Malin Ackermann, and she’s working opposite her new beau (an initially unrecognizable Justin Theroux) so, sure, it might have seemed like a good idea at the time. But did dear Jen not read the script? (Such as it is: a lot seems improvised) Well, it’s inexcrable. Truly. Embarrassing. Awful. Nothing saves this from being cringe-worthy and terrible. I can’t find it in myself to add anything else. Skip.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Doofus musician Peter (Jason Segel) has spent six years idolizing his girlfriend, television star Sarah Marshall. When she dumps him, he takes an impulsive trip to Oahu, Hawaii, where he is confronted by his worst nightmare: his ex and her hip new Rock Star boyfriend, Aldous, are staying at the same resort…..

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of those guy-rom-coms. The interesting thing is that all the characters are actually really nice. Even the dastardly Aldous – played with flair by Brit shock-jock Russell Brand – does his level-best to befriend Peter, and he’s only ever honest. Even Sarah Marshall, the ice queen bitch (Kristen Bell) is ultimately redeemable. Paul Rudd is also unrecognisably fantastic as the stoner surf-dude Chuck. But it’s Peter who stands out as a genuine decent human being trying to find his way back from the pain of a horrible relationship. And we’ve all been there. Jason Segel is Everyman; just taller. The Turtle Bay Resort on North Shore, Oahu – about 45 minutes out from Honolulu, gets something of a star billing too. I’d travel, now, if I could.

And PS – just to show that someone out there has brains as well as a sense of humour – here’s an NBC website for Crime Scene, Scene of the Crime, starring Sarah and that Baldwin brother.