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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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This Is the End

Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Emma Watson | R |


Nothing says “the party’s over” like a sinkhole opening up on the front lawn, catapulting guests into what looks suspiciously like the pits of hell. That blows for Rihanna, Aziz Ansari, and a crowd of celebs who die off faster than you can say “cameo appearance.” But it’s great for us, because This Is the End is one unapologetically offensive, ridiculously raunchy good time.

It all starts with Franco – or rather “Franco,” since the stars play fictional versions of themselves. (At least I hope they do, or Michael Cera really is one nasty little crud nugget.) He’s hosting a party when Los Angeles erupts in flames, hordes die and others are sucked up into a blue light. The survivors hole up in the house, cuddling for safety and debating the ethical division of a Milky Way bar. Everyone is hilarious, with Franco creepily crushing on Rogen and Baruchel and Jonah Hill hoping for each other’s deaths. But it’s the unfairly gifted Danny McBride who’ll bring tears to your eyes with his utter self-absorption. Watson has a great scene too, but her brief presence only underscores the film’s silly lack of women.

Other than that, End is a terrific payoff for this crew’s fans, with funny nods to Superbad and Pineapple Express. Even with a hard-R rating, it’s still pretty sweet. In theaters June 12.

Violet & Daisy

Alexis Bledel, Saoirse Ronan | R |


Teens Violet (Bledel) and Daisy (Ronan) are pretty cute for a pair of professional killers – but how exactly have they stayed alive this long? There’s much about this achingly affected black comedy that strains credulity – like the catnap they take waiting for their next target (James Gandolfini) to come home. He lets them sleep, then bakes them cookies. Bledel and Ronan give it their level best, exploring the nature of young female friendship. But they’re stuck in a twee, boring misfire. Wake me when the cookies are ready.

After Earth

Will Smith, Jaden Smith PG-13 |


Count vanity movie projects among the things you shouldn’t buy your kids. Will conceived the story, in which he plays Gen. Cypher Raige, father of Kitai (Jaden), whom he takes on a space mission. They end up crashing on Earth in a disaster that kills everyone not named Smith. While Cypher nurses his broken legs and spouts self-helpy Smithentology about the nature of fear, Kitai lopes through the land of the lost to find the ship’s beacon. The plot is silly, but better than the wooden acting and stilted dialogue.