I went to see This is the End, a very funny movie about the end of the world. It’s full of famous actors I know and love:
- Seth Rogen, of Funny People, Superbad and Knocked Up
- James Franco, of the Spiderman franchise, several other films I never saw
- Jonah Hill, of Superbad, Cyrus¸ Moneyball… and a few other films I loved.
They’re all playing versions of themselves.
And right smack dab at the centre of the plot of This is the End, the one actually carrying the film among all the famous funny men, is another Canadian actor (Rogen is a Canadian too), namely Jay Baruchel. When Baruchel and Rogen arrive at Franco’s house for a party, we’re told about Baruchel as though he were somehow the peer of Franco, Hill & Rogen, the one moment that might strain credibility.
I had no idea who he was, and I’m pretty sure that was the truth for everyone else.
Many times in this film I was scared and burst out laughing in terror. Of course I came home smiling after a very funny very scary movie.
Imagine my surprise when there he is again –Jay Baruchel—starring in a movie on TV. But CBC happened to show The Trotsky tonight, a drily funny Canadian flick, a social comedy set in Montreal serving as a chaser to my comedy full of big names. Baruchel plays a young man believing himself to be a reincarnation of Leon Trotsky, bouncing back and forth between moments of pathos & comedy with unerring skill. Colm Feore does a very stylish turn as a school Principal with an uncanny resemblance to Lenin. Saul Rubinek plays the dad to Baruchel, Genevieve Bujold is wonderful in her brief appearance, while Ben Mulroney turns up as himself on E-Talk.
It’s a funny coincidence, given that the best thing about This is the End is that each of those stars also does a version of themselves. Franco & Rogen are hysterical playing off what we know about them, while Michael Cera does an over-the-top version of himself.
Or maybe it’s just that the SNL-flavoured style of comedy (in This is the End) clicks when making references to what we know from history or popular culture.
It’s been a Jay Baruchel kind of day. Based on these two outings –the small-scale Canuck ensemble piece and the big-budget film I saw (and many of you have seen, surely…!)—Baruchel deserves to be known. He’s a special talent.