‘This Is The End’ Has Everything Nat Geo Loves, from Sinkholes to Milky Way (Bars)

By the end of This Is The End, I had tears in my eyes – from laughing so hard – and a sinking feeling in my stomach.

You see, I had been assigned to cover this particular movie by Marc, my editor at National Geographic, a publication that prides itself on presenting a balanced view of the natural and physical world.

“Go see the movie,” Marc said. “And find the National Geographic angle.”

In the past, this had meant writing about volcanic activity after seeing Star Trek…or watching a colleague interview a chicken behavioral specialist about the chicken dances in Arrested Development.

Easy and fun, right?

But This Is The End – the post-apocalyptic comedy starring Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and James Franco – wasn’t going to be so easy, mainly because it’s one of the filthiest movie I have ever seen.

I first made a mental list of all the parts of the movie I couldn’t cover for National Geographic: it was long and graphic and involved many different bodily functions and fluids.

I then made a mental list of all of the parts of the movie I could cover for National Geographic: there were two.  In the beginning of the doomsday movie, many famous celebrities fall into a sinkhole that opens up when the Rapture begins.

But my coworker Jeremy had already written a primer on sinkholes in March. Another sinkhole article, three months later?

Meh. Marc wasn’t going to go for that.

So then there was Plan B: A Definitive Look At End Of The World. Would it end in a bang or a whisper, in fire or in ice – or in the middle of James Franco’s mansion, tucked within the Hollywood Hills.

It was time to consult an expert: another coworker, Catherine Zuckerman, who actually wrote an entire book about the Mayan Calendar and end-of-the-world scenarios.

“Doomsday is nothing new, Mel,” she said. “It’s something humans inevitably do. There’s a need to predict the end.”

In This is the End, Rogen and pals are hanging out at James Franco’s house when the Rapture strikes, setting off earthquakes and fires and horror for those not lucky enough to be armed – as these guys are — with nutella, cheese, a Milky Way bar, 56 beers, and various handles of hard liquor.

Historically, various prophets have risen to great fame and glory predicting our eternal doom and gloom, only to recalculate their prophecies when life goes right on ticking. Zuckerman notes that for humans, “the proverbial sky has been falling forever.” Among the more notable predictions from her book:

  • In 1806, the small English town of Leeds was overwhelmed with fear when apocalyptic phrases started appearing on the eggs of a local hen.
  • In 1982, a best-selling book called The Jupiter Effect predicted that a planetary alignment would cause massive destruction
  • 1988 passes, and along with it, the year of the rapture according to NASA employee Edgar Whisenant
  • 2011: Harold Camping, the former president of Family Radio, predicts the Rapture of May 21; when that date passes, he changes the Rapture to October 21.

And then there were the Mayans, who famously predicted that our world would end last December. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.)

So where does this leave us? Well, according to trusty Wikipedia, we’re now slated for Eternal Destruction in 2020, 2021, 2045, 2129, and 2240, among other dates.

That’ll give us enough time to rewatch This Is The End at least a few times before the End Times. And believe me, it’s one movie where you’ll be laughing so hard that you’ll want to rewatch — maybe even from the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melody Kramer writes and edits pieces for both National Geographic's magazine and website. She tweets @mkramer.

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