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Thematic Cage Match!: The Movies of 2013 Part II

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In which some of the movies of 2013 with thematic similarities are placed in a metaphorical cage and forced to do battle. 

 Today’s Match-Up:

“It’s the End of the World As We Know It, and Blah Blah Blah”

This is the End vs. The World’s End

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I saw but two of the three “End of the World” comedies in 2013, but plan on seeing the third (It’s a Disaster) as I hear it is fantastic as well. What is up with really funny movies about the end of days? I think the key to the ones I saw are that they have a lot more going on than just watching the comedic actors meet grisly ends (although that is great too, Michael Cera!)

This is the End, the best “summer” movie of 2013 is funny in the way that, say, Superbad was funny. It works as an excuse to watch those Apatow guys semi-improvise some of the funniest dialogue around, but they’ve been doing that faithfully since The 40-Year Old Virgin almost 10 years ago. This is the End, a movie about the appearance of the Rapture during an awesome James Franco party, has all that, sure, but it also turns out be a fairly thoughtful meditation on friendship and what it means to be “good,” especially for these guys for whom hedonism is always a very, very easy option. As the “chosen ones” on Earth are ascended into heaven, our heroes (Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Franco) find themselves not only stuck in Franco’s house during the escalating apocalypse, but bickering with and fighting one another as well.  Everyone is hilarious here, playing some version of themselves, but my favorites were Robinson and Baruchel, who give the movie the heart it needs to be more than simply Superbad Goes to Hell.

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The World’s End is not as literal about the armageddon as This is the End, but its vision is possibly more disturbing. Rather than God cleaning house, the human race finds itself “Starbucked”; that is, homogenized to the point where nothing is offensive or off-putting, but also completely lacking in character or edge. Yeah, this has been done before in The Stepford Wives or the variations on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The World’s End overtly pays the piper in its derivativeness. Edgar Wright and the gang have always repurposed what came before for the greater good, and here it is in the name of framing how we yearn for “better days” that probably never existed, how we view ourselves as a slight variation on our younger, “better” selves when in actuality that variation is probably massive, and how strengths at one time in your life can easily turn into weaknesses later on. Oh, and its funny as shit, too.  I love this movie.

Winner:  The World’s End

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