If you haven’t seen it by now, then go. This Is the End, with its star-studded cast and satirical bent, might be the funniest movie this year—possibly this decade. Those who enjoy films featuring James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride are sure to be pleased because the actors play themselves (essentially). Generally the story follows the basic plotline of a bunch of A-listers trying to survive after the Apocalypse crashes James Franco’s house party. From there, hilarious twists and turns ensue.
So, at this point you might be thinking, what does a movie like this have to do with a thoughtful, New Age website about death and dying? Well, for one, (SPOILER ALERT) everyone in the movie dies. Going further than that, they all know they’re going to die ahead of time. When the characters realize the Apocalypse has indeed arrived, they go through all five stages of grief according to the Kübler-Ross model: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They come up with inventive ideas in an attempt to escape their inevitable ends. As funny as the choices and the scenarios end up being, I believe this idea of trying to escape death strikes a chord for many people watching. It isn’t a question of what we would do if faced with a scenario as unlikely as the Apocalypse; it’s a question of how we choose to handle our own mortality.
As the movie goes on, the events get stranger. They expertly parody classic horror films, some of which include The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. Jonah Hill, for instance, becomes impregnated by Satan and later has to be exorcised. Pushing the envelope a little bit further, Danny McBride manages to survive the apocalyptic world by resorting to cannibalism and instating himself as a lord of cannibals. Craig Robinson sacrifices himself and is immediately beamed up to Heaven for his good deed. The other characters realize they can go to Heaven, too, as long as they prove to have good souls. In the end, they all prove themselves worthy of Heaven and upon arrival find themselves at the Hollywood party of a lifetime. While obviously poking fun at the L.A. scene and Christian ideas of the afterlife, the ending note is an overall positive one. Again, it’s open to interpretation, but I wouldn’t mind an afterlife that involves a reunion of the Backstreet Boys.
In a number of ways, This Is the End points a stiff finger at the irrational fears and taboos surrounding death. Today’s culture has a difficult time talking about death, let alone laughing about it. With all of the distractions and coping mechanisms we use to deny our mortality, it isn’t that big of a stretch to believe there’s a funny movie about it. This Is the End might not be the most highbrow interpretation of our culture’s fear of death, but it certainly serves as an invitation to talk about it.
What do you think — do comedies about death lighten the mood or trivialize the end-of-life experience?
Watch the Trailer Below:
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