out of Five
Running time: 107
Entertaining, frequently hilarious comedy with a witty script, a superb comic cast and some surprisingly good special effects, though your enjoyment of the film will largely depend on how funny you find the relentless self-parody.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, This Is The End begins with Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen (playing themselves) attending a Hollywood party at James Franco's house just as the apocalypse begins, engulfing all of Los Angeles in fiery chaos. When the majority of Franco's guests (including Rihanna, Michael Cera, Kevin Hart and Paul Rudd) are swallowed up by a recently opened chasm, Rogen, Baruchel and Franco barricade themselves inside the house with Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride, fending off various demons and marauders in the meantime. However, as the days pass, tensions and petty rivalries within the group begin to flare.
With the cast all playing slightly exaggerated versions of themselves it seems odd to talk about the performances, but Rogen and Baruchel make terrific, likeable leads (their bromance-style friendship is surprisingly moving) and Franco, McBride, Robinson and Hill are all very funny in support, particularly when ripping into each other about the bad movies they've made. There are also a handful of amusing cameos, most notably Michael Cera (partying like he's Jack Nicholson circa 1975) and Emma Watson, who decides she'd rather take her chances with the apocalypse after she overhears the men making inappropriate comments.
The witty, rapid-fire script is packed with self-referential jokes (God help you if you're unfamiliar with any of the actors) and is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, with several great running gags (e.g. Baruchel's suspicion that Hill doesn't like him, no-one actually liking McBride, etc) and some hilarious piss-taking (Franco and McBride fighting over porn is a particularly puerile highlight). However, Rogen and Goldberg are careful to make their emotional moments work too, at least as far as the central friendships are concerned.
The special effects are surprisingly good, whether it's the fiery chaos engulfing L.A. or the various creatures and demons that the characters encounter – clearly, Rogen and Goldberg have spent a lot of time wondering what the End of Days might actually look like. In addition, the film has a number of unexpectedly charming throwaway moments, such as the moment when they decide to kill time by making a low-budget sequel to Pineapple Express.
The only real problem is that the central conceit wears a little thin at times and your mileage may vary in terms of the overall smugness scale, but if you're a fan of the actors' previous films, you're probably on pretty safe ground. That said, if you don't share a particular obsession of Baruchel's, then the film's big closing joke seems anti-climactic, to say the least.
The overall concept may be stretched fairly thin in places but, ultimately, This Is The End is well acted, has some impressive special effects and delivers some big laughs. Recommended.