The Films of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
This Is the End (July 2/13)
This Is the End details the chaos that ensues after several Hollywood actors are forced to fend for their lives in the wake of an apocalyptic event, with the movie following James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson as they attempt to put aside their differences and battle a wide variety of outside forces. There's little doubt that This Is the End fares best in its early scenes, as the movie boasts an irresistibly affable feel that's reflected, for the most part, in Rogen and Baruchel's palpable chemistry together - with the pair's freewheeling banter perpetuating the movie's compulsively watchable vibe. It's only as the aforementioned apocalyptic event transpires that This Is the End begins to lose its grip on the viewer, as filmmakers Rogen and Evan Goldberg offer up a claustrophobic midsection set almost entirely within Franco's estate that's rife with padded-out, hopelessly unfunny improvised material - with the meandering atmosphere compounded by an emphasis on the characters' various arguments (which, naturally, couldn't possibly be less interesting). The progressively tedious vibe renders the novelty of the premise and charisma of the performers moot, and it's ultimately clear that This Is the End could (and should) have topped out at a brisk 80 or 90 minutes (including credits). And while the film does improve in its climactic stretch - the closing sequence is almost worth the price of admission in itself - there is, finally, far too little here that wholeheartedly works and it's obvious that Rogen and Goldberg should've passed their screenplay onto a more experienced filmmaker.
There's little doubt that The Interview marks a slight improvement over Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's directorial debut, 2013's This Is the End, with the movie managing to at least hold the viewer's interest for the duration of its (palpably overlong) running time. The high-concept premise follows successful talk-show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) as he and his producer (Rogen's Aaron Rapaport) are enlisted by the CIA to murder Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), with complications ensuing as Dave finds himself ensnared in an unexpected friendship with the ruthless North Korean dictator. As was the case with This Is the End, The Interview suffers from a decidedly erratic narrative that fares best in its opening stretch - with Rogen and Goldberg's fun, freewheeling sensibilities paving the way for a first half that's rife with amusing sequences and hilarious set pieces. It goes without saying, too, that Franco and Rogen's personable work here plays an integral role in the film's mild success, with Franco's unapologetically over-the-top performance remaining a consistent highlight within the proceedings. However, much like This Is the End, The Interview begins to demonstrably run out of steam somewhere around its midway point - with Rogen and Goldberg's efforts at padding out the runtime resulting in a number of misguided and unfunny interludes. And although the film does rally for an admittedly stirring climax, The Interview is ultimately felled by a lack of consistency that highlights its various problems - with the movie finally locked into place as a passable time-waster (and little else).