The Earth opens up as everyone around you fall into pits of endless hellfire; others are lifted into the sky to the clouds and beyond by beams of angelic blue light, but you aren’t so lucky. You neither fall nor ascend, but your chances for survival are slim nonetheless. With the arrival of the apocalypse you’ll depend on the group of survivors you band together with. Chances are, ending up in James Franco’s house with the likes of actors Seth Rogen and Danny McBride wouldn’t be your first choice in a serious go at survival. They weren’t at the top of Jay Baruchel’s list either.
“This Is the End”, written and directed by “Superbad” team Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, takes a handful of Hollywood’s most successful comedic actors and throws them into the end of the world – all playing themselves.
Jay, a childhood friend of Seth Rogen, is still struggling to find the same success that Seth has achieved in the Apatowian comedies “Pineapple Express” and “Knocked Up”. An outspoken opponent of the L.A. lifestyle, part of Jay’s slower ascent to fame has no doubt come from his reluctance to join in on the close community of comedy actors that frequently work together.
Jay comes to visit Rogen in L.A. and on the first night is pressured into attending a party at the lavish home of James Franco. Clearly uncomfortable, Jay struggles to fit in around the horde of celebrities including Rihanna, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Emma Watson. Jay ditches the party to make a run to a convenience store when suddenly the end-times arrive.
With no choice but to retreat to Franco’s home, Jay and a handful of the actors survive the initial chaos and board themselves up in the estate. With nothing more than the supplies from the party and a single revolver Franco kept from the prop department of a previous film, the group of unequipped performers make a stand against the oncoming apocalypse in the marijuana and in-joke fueled “This Is the End”.
“God? It’s me, Jonah Hill. From ‘Moneyball’.”
A film filled with well-known actors playing themselves turns out to be an absolute goldmine of potential. Characters bash each other’s projects and stroke their own egos in some of the funniest material of the year.
Unlike previous collaborations, Rogen and Goldberg have not only written the film but directed it as well. Without the voice of another major creative collaborator or director, the duo’s unique brand of referential comedy ranging from the obscure to the ridiculous runs rampant. Whether this is an attribute of the film’s success or mediocrity will depend on the taste of the audience. Fans of “Pineapple Express” and the like will find an oftentimes-funnier film here. On the other hand, while “Pineapple” and “Knocked Up” may have shaken up the young-adult-male demographic with the introduction of involving dramatic subplots, “This Is the End” is often too excessively crude and lacking any kind of significant plot for older or more serious audiences to find much value beyond the collection of jokes and way over-the-top bits.
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