During a party at James Franco’s house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson are thrust into the apocalypse. To survive, they’ll have to work together; too bad they’re all out for themselves.
Co-Directors/Writers: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad,” “Pineapple Express”)
Based On: A short “Seth and Jay vs The Apocalypse” by Jason Stone
Notable Supporting Actors: Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, Paul Rudd, Rihanna, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Channing Tatum, Kevin Hart, Jason Segel
MY TAKE: Dealing with the apocalypse should be easier when you’re in the company of pals, unless your friends self-involved assholes, like the characters in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s comedy “This Is the End.” Surrounded by selfish comedic actors, your chances of survival would be slim, but at least you’d all share some twisted laughs before you kicked the bucket. In that scenario, you’d probably experience the same perverted humor, you would if you watched this movie. Except maybe the madness wouldn’t be as funny if you were actually living it.
This film is built on a really amusing setup: celebrities playing warped versions of themselves during the end of days. The fact that these stars are willing to skewer themselves figuratively (and literally in some cases), is why this premise is effective. Life or death scenarios already bring out the worst in human nature, so of course the apocalypse pushes these cowardly, self-centered Hollywood types to rock bottom. And as you might expect, it doesn’t take long for these folks to hit hilarious bedrock in “This Is the End.”
Although many actors show up to lampoon themselves, the story mainly focuses on five friends: Rogen, Baruchel, Hill, McBride, and Robinson. These guys are supposedly best buds, however they have all kinds underlying tensions that come bubbling up to the surface Their love/hate relationships and constant bickering are fuel for the comedic fire and brimstone in this picture.
Despite the opportunity to really go wild with their fake personas, the majority of the leads are disappointingly tame. Baruchel is a holier-than-thou hipster, Rogen is a slightly more self-absorbed version of himself, Hill is overly nice in a phony way, Franco is super pretentious, and Robinson is still a teddy bear. The only one who truly embraces the chance to go nuts is McBride, whose insanely self-absorbed antics are a constant danger to everyone else. McBride’s character goes to some scary places that are incredibly humorous and just plain disturbing.
Overall, the jokes in this film are a mixed bag with varying levels of success. Highlights include Franco’s propensity for keeping props from his movies, Rogen’s worry that marauders will forcibly make love to his manboobs, and a spat between Franco and McBride where they threaten to ejaculate on each other. There are some terrible misses though, such as the tired exorcism bit that feels like it belongs in “Scary Movie.” Others around me found the picture to be uproarious, however I felt like the comedy was overly self-indulgent and alienating with its abundance of inside jokes. At least there’s a bright side: you’ll get hilarious surprise at the end that everyone can appreciate.
Although the solid premise for this movie allows it to mine lots of comedic gold, the fact that it’s based on a short is noticeable. While the concept of celebrities experiencing the apocalypse together makes for a funny YouTube video, it has a hard time sustaining the legs to last a full 107 minutes. The good news is that whether you hate the film or you just thought it was okay like me, the finality of its setting means that there’s no opening for a sequel to muck everything up worse. With any luck, no one will propose a prequel either.
MY GRADE: B...as in Basically Decent. Brought Down by a Few Bad Things.