A comedy apocalypse film featuring a host of actors playing themselves. The premise for ‘This Is The End’ is ridiculous but somehow, it is genius. Based on the 2007 short ‘Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse’ by Jason Stone, this also stars Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel but is co-directed by Rogen and frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg who also worked on Superbad, Knocked Up and 50/50. When Jay visits Seth in LA, they are invited along to a housewarming bash thrown by James Franco, and although Jay doesn’t feel welcomed into the Hollywood scene, he reluctantly accepts. When disaster strikes, he and a selection of other guests including Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson are forced to stick together and ride it out with hilarious consequences.
Now when in a cinema in front of the latest comedy, it’s the norm to find parts incredibly funny, admiring the jokes and the delivery, though in recent years good comedies have been very few and far between. It is however unusual, for me personally anyway, to physically laugh consistently and at times uncontrollably, almost from start to finish. ‘This Is The End’ delivers in a big way, from its self-parodying gags to the deliberately shoddy CGI. There are, as expected, hordes of knob jokes and a lot of childish humour but the chemistry between the stars makes it extremely watchable. After the initial OTT burst of destruction in the opening third of the film, the focus changes to a survival theme, the gang gathering their resources and putting together a plan, rationing supplies of water, beer, hallucinogens and a Milky Way. They go on to discover that it is Judgement day, and only a show of sacrifice would allow them access to be ‘sucked up’ into heaven, leaving only the selfish egos of LA behind to die.
Rogen is as effortlessly fun as he always his, this time happily joining in with making fun of the typecast hash smoking roles and the ‘Seth Rogen laugh’ which have become synonymous with his work. His slowly flowing dialogue links nicely with the rest of the players, particularly James Franco, and this is built upon when they playfully discuss a Pineapple Express sequel. Baruchel takes the ‘straight man’ role, which is needed in the midst of the surrounding jokers and he gets it down to a tee. The rest of the cast runs off like an Apatow conveyor belt of names in the initially party scenes, Jonah Hill reuniting with Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse for a brief, but fantastic segment. Jonah Hill is the stand out, taking centre stage in a comical Exorcist spoof sequence, though Robinson and McBride also provide bags of laughs. The bit part cameos recur and without giving anything away, a poster boy gives us his career best performance.
The more I think about ‘This Is The End’, the more I love it and I am still finding myself quietly chuckling over certain moments. I recommend this highly, but it is not for the easily offended and requires a certain mindset, so that the audience can take the film as seriously as those involved, which is not a lot at all, but that is not to say it has been taken lightly. Just when the Rogen/Goldberg writing bromance was thought to be running its course with recent hiccups such as The Green Hornet and The Watch failing to achieve the critical acclaim of their earlier pieces, they’re back again reminding us what they can do with the funniest film I’ve seen in years.