As its title suggests, “This is the End” is about the end of the world, and it has indeed plenty of fire and brimstone to pour on its funny cast. While it is almost certain that they are going to be doomed just like everyone left on the Earth, we are constantly bombarded with small and big laughs as the world outside is showered with fire and smoke and other apocalyptic signs, and there are several absolutely hilarious moments surrounded by its mildly amusing jokes involving with the main actors having a ball with playing the fictional version of themselves in the movie.
Based on Jason Stone’s short film “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse”, the directors/writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who wrote the screenplay for that short film with Stone, sets the beginning of their irreverent story in the mundane mood before gleefully hurling their friends/colleagues and others into Hell on Earth to be unfolded on LA. Jay Baruchel, nerdy and neurotic as he was in “Almost Famous”(2000) or “She’s Out of My League”(2010), visits LA to meet his close friend Seth Rogen, and he is warmly welcomed by his friend at the airport before going to Rogen’s house for smoking marijuana together. After their several dizzy hours with marijuana have quickly passed, Rogen, who looks less chubby than before but still not so different from his jolly teddy bear image I am familiar with, takes Baruchel to the night party at James Franco’s big modern house, but Baruchel is reluctant because of Jonah Hill(he does not like Hill for some reason).
At Franco’s residence, which looks like a stack of Lego blocks from the outside, we see lots of well-known figures in Hollywood business here and there as everyone has another fun night with music and booze. Two of the most notable guests are Emma Watson and Michael Cera, and Cera is virtually on the full-throttle mode for completely wrecking his shy, awkward kid persona previously exemplified in “Juno”(2007) and “Superbad”(2007). He is more or less than a cocaine-snorting jerk here in this film, and we also witness him having some private moment with two ladies in the bathroom.
And then something happens when Rogen and Baruchel go outside to buy cigarette. A huge Earthquake suddenly strikes LA, and they see a bunch of people being transported to the sky by mysterious blue light beams, and then the pandemonium erupts in the city. The party guests are initially oblivious to what is going on outside, but they soon find the ground in front of the house cracked and then crumbled to create a big giant hole. The special effects in the movie are as good as the ones in, say, “2012”(2009), and you may be tickled by the sight of many famous entertainers tumbled and fallen into the fiery bottom below one by one(Cera gets the worst of it, and he truly deserves that for his effectively unlikable performance).
On the next morning, it becomes clearer to six survivors in the house that they are in the middle of the biblical disaster. While the electricity is somehow supplied to the house, the communication line is broken, and there is not much food in the house. In the outside, fire and smoke are everywhere(considering the scale of the disaster, it is rather amazing that they are not asphyxiated to die yet), and there is also something horrible moving around the house.
The middle part of the movie is relatively the least funny part because the story is basically stuck with its main actors in the confined space, but it is at least amusing to watch these funny actors rolling and clashing with each other within the limited space while the end is coming closer to them hour by hour. Rogen and Baruchel are the most sensible members of the bunch, and Baruchel quickly sees that what he and Rogen witnessed at the supermarket was none other than the Rapture as prophesied in the Book of Revelation – and he also sees that there might be a way out of this mess for them. While Franco plays a vain, egoistic prick version of himself, Jonah Hill is nicer than he was in his previous comedy films, and Craig Robinson and Danny McBride are not that far from their respective screen personas. Usually with his personal towel on his left shoulder, Robinson comes to us as a big soft guy in his usual low-key comic performance, and, as the most incorrigible one in the bunch, McBride wields his boorish impertinence whenever it is possible; you never doubt that he will certainly go to hell no matter what happens.
The movie throws lots of inside jokes based on the careers of its main actors as they search for any way to increase their chance of survival or waste their precious time, and you may not fully enjoy them if you are not familiar with their careers. Hill’s recent Oscar nomination for “Moneyball”(2011) is naturally one of the main targets for laughs, and we even see a silly attempt to make the sequel to “Pineapple Express”(2008) in the middle of the story.
The movie also has other things to be enjoyed, and you will find them really funny regardless of your background knowledge. As the things get much worse outside, the movie goes all the way for more outrageous sights such as the giant devil with a certain big body part(you have to see it for yourself) and the hilarious cameo appearance by a certain major Hollywood star, and I must confess that I laughed hard while watching an uproarious moment during which “Rosemary’s Baby”(1968) and “The Exorcist”(1973) simultaneously came to my mind.
Although they were responsible for disposable films like “The Watch”(2012) and “The Green Hornet”(2011), Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are good comedy writers who can pull big laughs from us as proven in “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express”. While decorated with their usual raunchy male humor, “This is the End” is as funny as it can be, and it feels sort of sweet at times despite its loony background. After all, having some good laughs before thrown into hell is not a bad thing, and this is surely a fun apocalyptic ride to be enjoyed before you go to hell – or heaven, perhaps.