For the deeply playful, This Is The End is essential viewing. Whether the deep meta gives you tickles, or the weed-blazed, "cele-bro-ty" doomsday warrants a snort or guffaw, if there is a funny bone in your body, you will enjoy watching the Judd Apatow squad do a cinematic version of the game affectionately known as "the floor is hot lava."
Seth Rogen and his long time creative partner Evan Goldberg teamed up to write and direct this high bench mark of self-deprecating ambition. Rogen and every other actor and actress plays a self-effacing version of him or herself with aplomb. Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride lead a cast of dozens of stars who come to James Franco’s to do nothing but have a good time, but end up facing a apocalypse. When actors like Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Jason Segel, and a very coked-out, Capri-sun-sipping Michael Cera fall into a molten abyss outside Franco’s house, the main protagonists must board themselves inside and await their doom. And there, inside the high-art laden home of Franco, the meat of the character conflict unfolds.
Jay Baruchel is the best friend of Rogen, he is shy and he dislikes scene L.A., which, in his mind, is represented by the wishy-washy James Franco, who also is gaming for the affections of Rogen. Baruchel absolutely despises Jonah Hill, who goes out of his way-and against type- to fawn over Baruchel. Robinson is just trying to survive, and everybody hates Danny McBride, who shows up in the second act, and steals scenes with his indignant quips at his bunkmates. And thank the devil he did, because without his parcel tongue, nobody would have been sufficiently put in their place.
The actions of the plot, the choices they make, satisfy the genre combination, CGI monsters, ridiculously fake looking establishing shots of the house, sudden cameo appearances, and gruesome celebrity deaths, happen with the spastic glee of an episode of South Park. Goldberg and Rogen are not quite auteurs in this twin directorial debut, but they have a class clown's touch that speaks to their their talent and relationship, which started in their tween years in a Hebrew school in Toronto.
Indeed, certain gags drag on a little too long, the in-house plot turns and montages are a bit repetitive, and the plot has a giant hole, literally. However, This Is The End is demonically fun. In This Is the End’s essence, comparisons can be made to Ocean’s Eleven; A bunch of famous actors want to make a silly movie and party together on and off screen, and so they do, consequences and shame be damned! The self indulgent brew ha-ha movie is a rare bird luckily, and just when I’m getting tired of seeing how great everybody’s life must be, the film ends I leave the theater feeling like I got my money’s worth.
As I left the theater, I could only wonder: What celebrity appearances were omitted from the final cut? Which elements of the character conflict are based on real life? How much was improvised? This type of intrigue is only a portion of the fun, and it's enough to warrant a second viewing on DVD.
Red Band trailer: