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This is the End

This is the End

Emma Watson makes an appearance in This is the End, and it's to scold Jay Baruchel on his better-than-thouness, and subsequently later to axe off the top of a giant scrotum statue that camps mock-proudly in James Franco's fortress dwelling, as she goes raving femme-fatal on these jumpy boys. She isn't meant to come off badly; in fact the film wants to make it seem like it's deferring to her. But basically she's one who can't be included within the boys' play; and it can, and sorta is, a way of revenging yourself on someone. Like Kate Middleton, she's become too high stature to be other than someone you part your way around, like a school of small fish around a shark, when she's predated herself upon your premises. This film's reminder of this status was probably invisible to her; in fact I think she thought she was including herself in with those expected to bear some of the ribbing, and therefore also part of the fun. But if she wanted the film to force people to make more of an effort to treat her as someone worthy of engaging in some truly respectful, that is, not beyond genuine critiquing and in a less stand-offish way, to have cooperated it wouldn't have used the film's "rapey vibe" joke as a plant to really just set her off and jet her out of the film.

Rather, rather than the safe humor enabled by keeping it to Tatum Channing alone, it would have challenged us to think on why we were so disquieted by how they were willing to show themselves depicted when she ended up following Tatum out on a leash as one of cannibal-leader McBride's zipped-up gimp bitches. Think on it. We wouldn't have fretted because we would have found ourselves thinking – "this could end your film career”; we would have done so because since there is absolutely no way we're ever going to not want to see Watson as film royalty since she's one of those serving as a god-type starlett fully immune to disposal that keeps us feeling small, temporary, and therefore unpretentious, somehow we're going to have to live with an image so much more impossible to chase out of our heads than Middleton's caught-unaware boob shots. How many in the film audience would have thought that if she let herself be shown in this position she's dumbly submitted herself to a further collective pile on? That is, to what happened to actresses caught out in the films before, notably with Elisabeth Berkeley, and as was at issue and palpably for a moment at hand in Seth Macfarlane's assaulting query at the Oscars to all of still-acting Hollywood's accomplished actresses who'd ever for continued relevance bared a boob? And yet regardless we're still keeping you in place, even in a position where hereto cognitive dissonance and upset would meant our immediately needing to chase anyone like you out, is what we could not at some level be aware of. For some of us it'd be a spark to reflect bravely on – why. And from this, some subsequent work toward counting her just as much worth dignity but on the same human level as ourselves.

The film is ostensibly about the end of life, but to me it's about how to best spend time while in an ostensible sort of purgatory. Kind of like Casablanca is ostensibly about that, when in reality they're both about how to spend time in a place that you'd want no way out of. New life comes to James Franco's castle home and ongoing party, just like all newcomers find their way to Sam's suave long-standing cafe, from a world that has become increasingly hostile: Germany has crashed through Paris's gates in Casablanca, but here still, with people taking swipes at Rogen’s film career while greeting Jay at the airport, and with the "mean shopkeeper lady" scaring him from even attempting to buy a chocolate bar while sojourning to a grocery store, things on the outside are making doing anything while exposed to it other than full-immersion buffering it, an increasingly unlikely thing as well. Hosting is left to someone who knows to let everyone come in and find their place and do their business, while never leaving people without someone who still will conduct affairs. There's some underhanded dealings on the outskirts of the place, and, we can assume, some rowdier characters, but the center is the confident host and his robust rotund piano-playing entertainer, keeping things humming, pleasingly tipsy and teased. 

When hell descends, it's rather as if the boys had retreated back to Seth Rogan's place, home for xboxing fun and a lower scale sort of ribaldry – boys wrestling and "I drank my pee" jokes –  in a noticeably confined space. No longer is it so much a place to spend much time in, and the outside world of flames and awful happenings seems to not have much of a fortress wall to give backtalk and bulwark to: the sense you have when one of them steps out, is of someone leaving their pitched tent into a ranging tempest forest fire ... it does feel brave as shit when Craig Robinson ascents to entering it. And so there is a sense that the rest of the film is about dogging towards a mechanism by which a space sort of akin to the lost safe James Franco party-world can be unlocked, while meanwhile entertaining us with the full possible supply of fun and jokes that can be squeezed out by a bunch of quick-witted guys caught in some place quickly being besieged by their own excretions. At the end, when they all ultimately leave it, it feels like they were forced to ...  the “outhouse” had packed brown and was pushing them out.

The relief from leaving it, almost makes once again meeting Danny McBride a thrill, even as we're understanding him as a pack-leader cannibal. And so too even James Franco's being eaten, as after-all this links us back to the party where he actually suggested this happening to him in a sequel to Pineapple Express. Mind you, we were already primed to like McBride. In a movie world ultimately built of people taking pleasure in refuge, he actually exults into a status of someone who isn’t going to let anything from the outside cage him. When he greets his former friends, it feels appropriate that he seems almost to have forgotten them – "You guys are still alive?" He can do the shocking thing of cutting ties when appropriate and moving on, which is a miracle in a world designed to make people want to cling to the familiar. No wonder his peers were shocked that he’d leave them so totally, and no wonder even after trying to shoot them they let him go untouched. However much we get a spell of a great purgatory in this film there's of course no Divine or Fiend, but this was unanticipated and unfamiliar enough to for a moment seem an outerworldly visitation. 


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