Thanks to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's “This is the End,” the apocalypse is a blast. It might seem like a tall order to wring laughs out of humanity's last wheezing gasp, but Rogen and Goldberg brought all their friends along on for this brutally funny and enthusiastically filthy romp through the lake of fire, and the whole thing just kills.
Rogen and nearly everyone else in the cast, including James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, play lightly fictionalized versions of themselves — self-directed potshots and satirical jabs are the life's blood of “This is the End.” When Rogen picks up Baruchel at Los Angeles International Airport for a laid-back week of video games and bales of their favorite marijuana varieties, Rogen is accosted by a paparazzi who asks if he will ever play a character not based on himself. The answer is no — not this time.
Much to Baruchel's dismay, Rogen drags his friend to Franco's house for a blowout party attended by most of young Hollywood — it's almost easier to list who is not in Franco's living room. Then, when Baruchel and Rogen step out for smokes, all hell literally breaks loose.
Yes, it sounds like a boondoggle, a “Cannonball Run” or “It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” for Judd Apatow's repertory company, but it's a tight, no-nonsense directorial debut for Rogen and Goldberg, the writing team behind “Superbad” and “The Pineapple Express.” “This is the End” is built on the hypothetical question of how privileged actors and comedians would survive if the Hollywood Hills became ground zero for Judgment Day. But as the young and hilarious face boredom, starvation, bursts of violence and multiple privacy violations while trapped in Franco's mansion, Rogen and Goldberg give the story weight by building in questions of how these self-absorbed man-children might find redemption in the face of certain death.
“This is the End” also hits hard with its expertly deployed shocks, and along the way, viewers get a sense of what kind of movies Rogen likes to watch when he's not rolling his own — “This is the End” pulls in elements of zombie horror and disaster epics while crossing the streams between “Ghostbusters” and “The Exorcist.” All that and an axe-wielding Emma Watson make “This is the End” a comedy that should not be left behind.
— George Lang