This is the End vs Before Midnight

Kenny D June 13, 2013 0

this is the end, before midnight, weekend moviesI know that Man of Steel comes out this weekend, but it just didn’t feel right comparing that movie to these. First up, we have a raunchy end of the world comedy featuring everyone’s favorite frat boys. They go up against an indie release about relationships and miscommunication in your 40’s. I assure you, it’s much better than I just described.

This is the End

this is the end, summer comedies, gross comedy, apocalyptic comedyWhenever I see James Franco, Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill in a role (besides Moneyball) I wonder why they even give them character names. I see them as they are, playing themselves.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad writers) have decided to capitalize on the popular apocalpyse craze and direct/write a film starring all of their buddies…playing themselves….at the end of the world. It’s different, I’ll give them that.

The story starts as Jay Baruchel (She’s Out of My League) visits his old buddy Seth Rogen in Los Angeles, and just wants to catch up and not hang out with any of Seth’s D-bag Hollywood buddies. Seth has other plans as he drags Jay to a party at James Franco’s house, filled with the likes of Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera (in a shocking role), Aziz Ansari, Rihanna, etc. Jay can’t stand that type of crowd and makes Seth go to the gas station to get some snacks and some time away from those phonies. While they’re out, massive earthquakes begin and people are sucked up into heavenly laser beams.

Yes, this movie is about the rapture. Think ‘Left Behind’ with 100% less Kirk Cameron.

kirk cameron, kirk cameron born again, this is the end

“We all know I’m going to Heaven.”

So Jay and Seth run back to the party to see if everyone is okay, and in a clever twist, everyone at the party is unaffected (Because they’re all evil, get it?) and have no idea what’s occurring outside. It doesn’t take long for more calamities to happen and most of the party being swallowed up in the Earth and brutally dying. The only survivors are Seth, Jay, Jonah, Franco, Craig Robinson and sadly, Danny McBride. These “survivors” are left to hide in Franco’s house and try and protect themselves from the hellfire and damnation happening just outside the front door.

I didn’t think the comedy would be that great, but then again I love Superbad, so I was hoping for a tight, off-color comedy. Well, the first 20 minutes are hilarious. Seeing Michael Cera play against type (hopefully) was great and I loved seeing James Franco act like the tool that everyone thinks he is. But when the rapture starts and the gang locks themselves in the house, it comes to an immediate halt. It’s almost as if Rogen and Goldberg gave the cast free rein to improv for an hour.

Danny McBride is so unlikable in this movie (and everything he’s ever been in). Also, I got annoyed by the laziness of the script. There were a few moments of scattered hilarity but it felt like forced laughs and crassness to make up for a plot. I loved The Exorcism of Jonah Hill and I did like Jay Baruchel’s anti-Hollywood character.

The end of This is the End partially redeemed the movie because it stopped caring about any sort of seriousness. It definitely went full rapture.

In short, the beginning and the end of this movie were hilarious and unexpected, but there is a solid hour of boredom in between. It felt like Grown Ups for the crude crowd mixed in with an extended episode of Family Guy. P.S. Those are not good things. I give this movie a rental because it will give you at least 8 good gut laughs.

Before Midnight

before midnight, sunrise, sunset, best trilogiesBefore you even consider watching this movie, you need to watch the first two movies in the series: Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I’ll wait…

I’m going to come right out and say that this is the most unique and beautiful trilogy in film history. This series started out in 1995, when Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were 20 year old characters with stars in their eyes. It all begins when Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) meet on a train in Vienna and decide to spend the day together before Jesse flies back home to America. That movie, and its wonderful dialogue, was all about how idealistic and wannabe-romantic kids can be in their 20’s.

The second film, Before Midnight, has Jesse and Celine meeting 9 years later, and it covers how much intelligence and knowledge people in their 30’s have gained since their independent 20’s. They also tackle the question of regret and looking back.

Now another 9 years later, Jesse and Celine are married and have two girls of their own. As with the first two movies, this movie is all dialogue. Don’t expect a car chase or European spies to show up. This movie tackles the concept of marriage and dissatisfaction for couples in their 40’s. Jesse and Celine have always had very sincere, honest conversations with each other and this movie provides no exception. It doesn’t take long for these two to start arguing about making life changes and that’s only the beginning.

before sunrise, before sunset, before midnight

The progression from Sunrise, Sunset and Midnight

The other two movies provided a great tour of classical European cities, whereas Midnight largely takes place in a tension-filled hotel room. They really nail the anger and intensity of a couple who always thought they were star-crossed lovers.

You may wonder who would want to pay 10 dollars to see a couple fighting. I assure you, if you know and love these characters, its an unflinching pleasure to see the reality of their situation. In a way, this movie can be more romantic than the other two movies because they aren’t all twitterpated, instead they are real people with real issues just trying to make it work.

This movie will make you emotionally invested. You may even pick sides. Hawke and Delpy are so great in character that you really want them to end up together, walking off into the sunset. This is some of the best acting I’ve seen all year, and it doesn’t hurt their talent credibility that they have cowritten these movies, alongside Richard Linklater.

Before Midnight is already one of my favorite movies of the year. It’s an honest look at a cinematic couple who have always felt real. I’m excited to see how things are for them 9 years from now. See this movie. But first see the other two.

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