“This is the End”…unless you’re good enough?

July 2, 2013 | gospel, Movie Review | 19 comments

Disclaimer: This is the post in which I write about a totally crass R-rated movie I saw last weekend. A movie I’m not promoting but found intriguing. So please don’t gather your small group and plan an outing to see this film. My goal in writing this “review” of sorts is to bring God the glory He deserves through engaging a culture desperate for hope.

Have you heard of the new movie, “This is the End”?

thisistheendsetvisit2

I looked up the Twitter account for the movie and found 14K followers. Tweets about the movie repeatedly included: “ridiculously funny”, “never laughed so hard in my life”, “made it to my top 3 movies, ever”.

I have to admit I laughed a lot during this movie (also cringed a lot...).

If you did a search for official reviews on this new Seth Rogen movie, you’d read:

  • I’m sick of the apocalypse. I wish it would actually happen so we could stop getting post-apocalyptic movies, TV shows & video games…but this movie gets props for originality due to the actors playing fictionalized versions of themselves during the apocalypse.” –Petey Oneto
  • “It may not be the smartest humor with lots of bathroom jokes but it still had me laughing.”-Petey Oneto
  • “this post-modern filthy farce, at times, will likely make a porn star blush.”-David Blaustein.

Given those words, you may be asking, “Why in the world would Heather see this movie?” and “Why is she telling us about it?” 

I saw this movie because it intrigued me. The actors play fictionalized versions of themselves (which is rarely, if ever done). James Franco played James Franco. Seth Rogen played Seth Rogen. I applaud actors willing to make fun of themselves and their celebrity position (and even jabs at their meaningless pursuits).

What's it all about?

To summarize in a sentence: During a big Hollywood party at James Franco’s house the world ends.

And not just the version we see in a lot of movies, with aliens or a meteor. In this movie the “end of the world” begins with… the rapture.

Similar to the popular “Left Behind” Christian novel series, in an instant a select few are taken up into the sky in blue streams of light. Drivers sucked right out their cars through the roof.

And everyone else is left to suffer earthquakes and giant sinkholes and fires and destruction.

Five (+) friends find themselves boarded up inside James Francos “fortress” of a house. Valuable art serves a new purpose, covering windows to keep out looters and evil.

Since they no longer have phones, TV or internet to learn about what’s going on outside their walls they begin to develop theories on why this is happening and why some people were taken up in a blue light & others weren't.

This is what intrigued me enough to write about an R-rated movie on the God Centered Mom site.

One character, Jay, pulls out a Bible and begins reading from the book of Revelation. He is convinced the words in this book are coming true. Even citing the prophecy of a seven-headed demonic figure.

Of course, his friends think he is ridiculous (it is a mainstream comedy after all). Until each of them comes in contact with extreme evil…including Jonah Hill being possessed by a demon). Once they stare evil in the eye they begin discussing what the current reality means.

Seth Rogen says, “So I guess this means there really is a God.” To which Jay retorts, “Yeah, and like 95% of people believe in Him”.

Listening to these guys in a desperate situation discussing the validity of God’s existence and their response...in a R-rated, stoner comedy? Amazing.

They kept going back to why the first people were taking up in the blue light. Was it because they were good?

Your goodness, your sacrifice, your pleasure?

And they each claimed to be "good" and gave testimony to each other’s goodness. But they hadn't been taken up to heaven in a blue light. So maybe they had to be more than just "good". Perhaps going to heaven meant following the 10 commandments?

After a failed exorcism of Jonah Hill resulting in a house fire, they find themselves face-to-face with a winged demonic creature. Craig Robinson offers to provide a distraction so the three others can escape. Suddenly as he takes on the demonic creature a blue light shines down and takes him up to heaven.

The friends watch and decide that perhaps the key to heaven is sacrifice. But unfortunately they believe it is their own sacrifice that gets them into heaven...not Christ's sacrifice for them.

The only time they really mention Jesus Christ was as a curse word (although in that moment Craig shares that one of the 10 commandments is “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain”. Seth replies “I’m not talking about the Lord I’m talking about Jesus”, which leads to a mention of the Trinity. And James Franco’s analogy of the trinity, “It’s like Neapolitan ice cream”).

I appreciated Seth and Evan writing a mainstream comedy that even addresses and wrestles with the idea that there may be more to life than partying and drugs.

But my heart broke as I watched the characters wrestle with “how to get to heaven”. Was it being good? Was it sacrificing self for others? Could you lose salvation? (as they watched James Franco’s light go out when he started bragging about his salvation). Could your personal salvation transfer to others? (when Jay tried to grab Seth’s hand and save him too).

Lastly once they get to heaven we get to see their interpretation of eternity.

Is heaven only about all our favorite things in one place? For them it meant drugs, girls in bikinis, Segways, roller coasters & the Backstreet Boys. Is heaven only for our personal pleasure?

Of course, I wouldn’t have expected these guys to display the same version of heaven I imagine, one in which we praise God and serve Him forever. But their interpretation of salvation and eternity were both self-centered. They saved themselves from evil so they could spend eternity in personal pleasure and comfort.

So that’s why God Centered Mom is writing about a R-rated movie--because this movie made me thankful.

Lord, thank you that it is not in my “being good” or “my sacrifice” that saves me from evil or gets me into heaven. Righteousness is not from self or following a set of rules.

Thank you for sending Jesus as the sacrifice I didn’t have to make. His righteousness makes me right with You.

Thank you that Jesus is God and his name is set-apart, holy and honorable.

Thank you are God, you are real and a majority of the world believes you exist.

Thank you for the hope you give us that we can be saved from the evil in this world (even the evil of my own bad choices).

Thank you Lord that heaven is more than a party where I get whatever I want. An eternity to sing Your praises…yes, Lord.

Amen.

 

 

19 Comments

  1. Julie Reynolds

    You are a brave one! Not only did you go just because your curiosity was intrigued, but then to blog about it??? Thank you for sharing, for your transparency, and for always striving to point others to Jesus!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      ha! thanks Julie. Never considered myself brave before…but I guess when the gospel is concerned I’ll shout it from the rooftops that everyone may know the good news!

  2. Kristin

    You know I love your blog and comment often, but when I saw you watched a rated R movie I truly was stunned. Although I, myself am also not perfect, we are told to make no provision for sin and to not set our eyes (or ears for that matter) upon things unholy. You are a writer. You are a godly woman. You are an example to all of those who read your blog. Although your point in watching the movie had a greater purpose, I think you should delete this blog post. I’ve never seen a rated R movie l, as a Christian. I’m not trying to be legalistic, but I don’t think you should either. Lets face it… Nothing good comes from a rated R movie. I want you to know my thoughts, but I am 100% cool with you not posting my comment if you choose not to.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thank you Kristin, I appreciate greatly your perspective and the time you took you to comment. Actually, I’m sure that your view is shared by many who read this blog.

      I prayed about whether I should even write the post in the first place. Ultimately I decided to – not because I expected any of the readers to see the movie or for any to even agree that the movie is worth being seen – but instead sharing an experience that is a part of my journey.

      As a Christian, there are a lot of perspectives on how to handle movies such as “This is the End” and books such as the “Da Vinci Code” which introduce the secular world to versions of the Truth. One common view in Evangelical circles is to avoid exposure to those secular, and even heretical, conversations altogether. Another view, which I have embraced, is to join that conversation that the secular world is having about key tenets of our faith. I believe the Body of Christ should seize on those moments when the window of conversation is open. To do so, we must be educated on the content and intelligent on our answers.

      I believe this is an important conversation. I have been intending to address this topic in a post for quite some time, and you have inspired me to write that post. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts which I know are shared by many. I look forward to the ongoing dialogue!

    • Heather @ fearfultofearlessblog.com

      I disagree that nothing good ever came from an R rated movie. Schindler’s List was one of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen, and it was rater R. True, most rated R movies don’t hold much value, but that doesn’t mean they can’t ever hold any value. Plus, from the very beginning, God has been using the unchurched, the unbelieving, and the unholy to do his work. Tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes, they were all used in the Bible to fulfill the important works of God’s will.

  3. Alyssa

    Hey Julie – it was so neat to see that many of the same themes and ideas from this movie stood out to you as to me! I also felt so thankful to God for the confidence I have in my salvation through Jesus. That is one good thing to come out of this R-rated movie for me!

    I also felt it was worth blogging about this movie because watching it would violate the conscience of many Christians I know (like you say, it is NOT for everyone!), but I hope if the movie comes up as a topic of conversation they can now offer a deeper response than “I wouldn’t watch such a movie.”

    I’m looking forward to exploring your blog and am glad to have connected through this unlikely means! 🙂

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thanks so much Alyssa for your words here and for being bold with me! And you can call me Julie anytime. 😉 thanks for stopping by and hope to stay connected.

  4. Alyssa

    And… by Julie I mean Heather, lol. Can I blame baby brain for that one??

    • Heather MacFadyen

      (i definitely use that excuse…especially after I learned your brain actually shrinks while you’re pregnant and stays shrunken until the baby is 6 months old. Are you expecting or have a newborn? or a toddler…i think that brain never fully returns to normal.)

      • Alyssa

        Haha my baby is five months – I will let my husband know my brain is still shrunken ASAP!

  5. Angi

    Oh Heather I just like this post a lot. Thank you for standing for what Jesus stands for. Truth is not relative. If we really believe that Gods truth is transcendent through space and time and does not change, than it stands to reason that we can find that truth anywhere- even through un-truths in r-rated movies.

    Plus above all we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, the wise, discerning, truth giving Spirit who lives in us. I think as we walk with the Spirit, in step with Gods heart, we will be able to see what is good and what isn’t. I think if we as Christians participate in culture and respond with Godly insights it says more of God (who definitely interacted with culture) than avoiding everything that isn’t made by Christians and sticking our heads in the ground.

    Okay stepping off soap box now. Basically I just love this post! 🙂

  6. Lydia

    Sad…this is how I feel when I read this post. Isn’t our Lord’s own Word deep enough to write about for eternity? After all, He(Jesus Christ) is the Word. Why start with words, from a godless movie, that belittle our AWESOME God? We should reach unbelievers with the TRUTH of the gospel; this is what Jesus did. He did not try to draw the Pharisees and other unbelievers in, by becoming more familiar with their darkened mindset. He simply spoke truth. We don’t fear movie ratings, but we have faith that God’s Word is enough. Our reverence and awe for Him cause us to have faith that His ways will draw sinners.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thank you Lydia for sharing your thoughts here. I completely agree. God’s word (& Jesus as the Word) should be enough.

      However, in the case of this post I was most interested in how the secular world entered the spiritual conversation. Having a Hollywood movie state that there is a heaven, there is a hell and there is a God…whoa. That’s a big deal (especially since the church this past year has been arguing about the existence of hell).

      You are correct, Jesus didn’t try to draw in the Pharisees. But He did spend time with the lost and broken. He knew their deep hearts and met them with HIs truth.

      Thank you again. Blessings.

  7. Lydia

    On a side note, I recommend the book ‘Heaven’ by Randy Alcorn. The new heaven and earth is so much MORE than just singing forever! 🙂

  8. Stevie

    Really enjoy your blog! I love that you are real and transparent! Don’t take the critics to heart, you have people like me who admire your “realness!”

  9. motherofknights

    You are my new best friend. LOVE this post, and it mirrors my heart exactly. I ran into this issue in teaching secular material in private schools too. The secular authors I taught from shared much truth-and often it showed us how a life outside of God’s plan and purposes leads to emptiness. I was so thankful that my conservative school allowed me to teach without censorship on issues that are areas of personal conviction. As a producer, I feel the same passion in the realm of entertainment. Thank you for your thoughtful post! Fantastic!

  10. Joyce and Norm

    Thank you for sharing this review, Heather. I think if you go into watching this type of film with a strong faith, knowing that it will not make you waver, it can still result in something good. If someone was struggling to figure out if they wanted to watch this film, and stumble upon this post, it might change their plans to go watch it. And I’m not a huge moviewatcher, so this also allows me to make conversation with someone who has watched it and might have questions. We use Plugged In to see if films are okay for us to watch, but someone had to have gone to watch those rated R films to review them first, right? And sometimes, even the ratings are misleading. There are certainly movies that are rated PG-13 that are just as a rated R one.

  11. Heather @ fearfultofearlessblog.com

    I’m sorry some people were a bit harsh with you here. I agree with the person who said you were very brave to write this, because unfortunately some in our faith will jump to judging you, your faith, and your character just for having watched the movie. I believe that God can (and does) use the ‘unsaved’ people and things in our world to speak His Truth. As a freshman in college I was struggling with my faith and with some bad choices that were leading me away from God. I discussed the bad choices with a friend who was very much NOT a Christian (and who was quite adamant about that fact). In the greatest of ironies, God used her and her words to guide me back to Him! Oh, and I actually really like the Neapolitan ice cream analogy. It makes a lot of sense to me!

  12. Laura

    Heather I LOVE how you think and process. You evidence much maturity in having a balanced good bad split (as Dr. Henry Cloud who wrote Changes that Heal calls it). Recognizing that things are not either all good or all bad. And I love how you are able to think critically and honor God through what you see. Being a missionary to college students, I work with students who are R rated. They are real life people to me, not a movie. The things they say, the things they do and think and talk about are all R rated. My mind is blown at what college students today are having to face. But Jesus wants them. He wants to transform their hearts and lives. And He does. He so beautifully does! Thank you for writing about this because it helps me better think/understand my mission field and how they think. I want to be the most effective I can in accomplishing the mission the Lord has given me and cutting myself off from anything unChristian lessens my effectiveness. I appreciate you Heather.

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