This is the End, and Summer Self-Surrender
I saw This is the End again, and the thing I noticed more this time is how scary the film ends up becoming. The lady beside me twitched as if herself hit, when a car crashes through a guy on the street, flipping him rapidly upwards and away to pavement as but a smashed-up carapace due to be crunched into even more ignominious road splatter. The film picks up again into something really disturbing, when a devil with a massive spearing penis subjugates Jonah Hill into a rape victim. And afterwards it gets worse, when Seth Rogan and Jay Baruchel find themselves without it realistically seems, any means to innocently show the kind of self-sacrifice and not-self love that would get them by surprise into heaven: Craig Robinson had seemingly claimed all possible avenue to demonstrate yourself sincerely repentant after knowing that this is the avenue to abscond yourself indulgently into heaven, with his amazing "take your panties off!" charge on the Lord of the Rings Balrog thing. This means that while they see many others taken safely away to a further lifetime of new experiences and shedding of all that lied past, they'll be left alone, with unloved destitutes without any fate, denied even the pleasure of knowing someone intended this barren fate for them: they were just passed completely by as a narcissistic self-loving judge sought out his same amongst the innumerable chastising ponderous before him.
What happens to Rogen and Jay at this point of the film is pathetic, though not with this saying anything undue about either of them. It's a hard thing to be a self-possessed, self-respecting individual, someone who doesn't just give in when someone powerful draws down on them; and it comes close to impossible when someone forces you back into the experiential state of an infant about to be abandoned for good by his parent. Rogen and Jay will clearly do anything now to still have a chance at being picked--there are no limits, and you can tell. And this has nothing really to do with their belief that God can be trusted, but owing to the intolerable fear of being left to rot, while so many others are drawn off to God and a halo of eternal happiness. I know they ostensibly are those who finally learned to be true friends to one another, but, really, who they are at the end of the film is the guy who poked his head into Franco's house earlier, willing to titty-fuck or be titty-fucked, if only they'd let him in. If they were self-possessed, they would have remained in many ways who they were earlier. Both of them, we note, are at heart natural skeptics, questioners, doubters, who serve as constant reality-checks for friends who might be becoming lost to themselves. Even with the Devil clearly possessing Hill, Rogen is still calling out his friends on their arrogant presumption of the Trinity; and his inability not to show when he thinks someone is sounding crazy even when it compromises a moment when it would feel good to be completely agreeable to a bro, comes clearly through when Franco delineates his absurd plotting for the finish of a proposed Pineapple Express 2.
Rogen is reluctant to agree with Jay that Franco's party is full of assholes and that his house "is a bit much," but it certainly isn't clear that this is just his deluding himself while the "hipster" outsider Jay has here kept his cool. At the finish, Jay admits he was afraid to join Rogen in LA, and it is possible that what this party is is just an LA that would have brought a wrath upon itself for too closely arrogating the assurance and confident self-regard that a jealous Athenian god would have assumed for herself. Or himself ... one wonders if the reason we are shown so much of the various demons' gigantic phalluses owes as some kind of quitting response to Franco's own sculpture one. In retrospect we realize that not one of the partygoers was chosen into heaven--it's the only way they wouldn't have credited Jay's accounting of what had just happened to them. And for a moment Franco, nestled in his cozy "throne" chair, with his whole company of grateful, happy, beautiful friends by his side, for good reason draws Rogen to doubt what he might have seen or even turn his back knowingly on Jay: two presentations of considerable power have just been handed him, and considering the former involved people dying horribly and a night sky filled with pockets of beaming "spaceship" lights, it's to the massive credit of what this LA has going for it that when it is feeling at its most self-assured, there is genuine reason for a momentary re-think of who best to ally oneself with. God, from whatever pantheon s/he belongs, is, quite incredibly, going to have to amp things up a bit to close the deal.
This, s/he certainly does, and the Seth and Jay we encounter at the end might wish for themselves each day a plate of their favorite cookies and a date with their favorite band, but one thing they won't do is be meaningfully distinguishable from any of the other heaven drones impossibly happy to yet be alive, ready to do as bidden, and willing to see Master in any which way s/he pleases. As Tony Stark remarks in the Avengers, "historically, not awesome." And so in good faith to what Rogen normally offers, I offer my own amendment to the film where rather than Franco at first being drawn to heaven but losing this prize for being a poor winner, Seth loses it for considering that as grateful as he now is, that God as much as Jay should probably still have tried harder to get to like the people at the party ... Michael Cera's butthole indeed was as adorable as we all imagined, and the rest just seemed to be having a good time.
I originally thought to write this second take on the film as a preamble to a discussion on the Internment, another film from the summer where we're supposed to just be happy for two guys making it into some utopian space, considering the hellish wraths they'd be exposed to if they didn't make it in. The hells are about the same, actually. Owen Wilson's life as a mattress salesman, where if he isn't perennially sharp and obedient he'll be outside in a clown suit in forty degree weather, would have drawn him for sure into alcoholism and very likely at some point, suicide. He for sure, never, would go out on a date, as befouled for being a loser as the plague-ridden were in hence-times. But I think you can pretty much transplant my thoughts on This is the End onto this film. For my purposes what it still serves is to show how humiliating it is that the god in This is the End is never really questioned, for just like the Google one all he really does to convince others' eager acquiescence and surrender of self-pride, is show himself the only safe-house available while the world underneath pretty much everyone, crumbles away. Then he counts on you dressing him so He's The Great Human Benefactor; and you do.
It's certainly a trend this summer to have Utopia offered to people, but it isn't always allowed to stay in a light favorable to its own preferred self-regard. Oblivion, for example, ends up showing its own up. Yet even though it surely wasn't its purpose, Oblivion still suggested how much we'll hide in the safe abode, regardless of how much integrity we'd assume for ourselves if we braved living on the more tenuous outside. I know, for example, that Tom Cruise's initial digs were certainly something I am longing for. So too his sense the perimeters of what each day might expect, and the portioned human bounty--his adult friendship and love affair with his wife--that awaited him at the end of each day. How sure am I that I would be able to addle on over to the outside, if each day there meant being bludgeoned by something sizeable you might have to account into your awareness of things? As an attempt at recompense, I might dream of being absolved into known grids.
Given our current clinging inclinations and fear that risk might mean abandonment, Wall-E's efforts to nudge us outside of pattern and safety seems lovely therapy that we should be glad to have incurred into our constitution. Jerry McGuire's bold sinking us into someone's failure and outside status for most if its film, however, has become something way too undistilled for our rattled tempers to handle ... I wouldn't look for it any longer on subsequent top one-hundred AFI lists--unless of course that and Forrest Gump turn out to be two of God's favorites.