“This Is The End” Movie Review

     The raunchy comedy genre gets a nice injection of originality with the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg directed “This Is The End”, an apocalypse tale in which the actors literally play themselves.  Assembled here are a who’s who of Hollywood comedy talent from both the big screen and the small screen.  All of this begs the question, is this how these guys really act in real life? If so, the film offers more than a glimpse into their lives and how they operate on a day to day basis.  Rogen and Goldberg are first time directors here, but have collaborated on several writing projects in the past that includes “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express”.  Here their script offers more of the same, but the fact these guys are all playing themselves offers a unique take on the genre as well as the cliche that bad things can happen to anyone.

     The film opens with Rogen picking up his buddy Jay Baruchel (“She’s Out of My League”) from the airport, making their way to Rogen’s Los Angeles pad.  After funny conversations about Gluten, Carl’s Jr., and weed, the two make their way to James Franco’s new house for a party.  An interesting mix of stars await with Franco himself and other favorites such as Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, Rihanna and many more.  It’s a hell of a party, until all hell breaks loose.  Rogen and Jay head to a convenience store for cigarettes when the area is hit by what appears to be a massive earthquake.  Rogen is knocked to the ground, but Jay sees blue lights come from the sky and several patrons overcome by the light and beamed into the sky.  Meanwhile, a rude store clerk is crushed by an air conditioning unit and the two run for their lives and back to Franco’s house.  Once arrived, a giant sink hole opens in Franco’s front yard, forcing hundreds attending the party to fall to a fiery death.  All of this isn’t played serious, instead seeming more like a Mel Brooks farce.

     The initial survivors include Rogen, Jay, Hill, Robinson, Franco, and Danny McBride who attended the party but passed out in a bathtub before the chaos ensued.  This is where the writing excels as the group tries to figure out the best way to survive the situation using conventions they’ve learned from other films.  They find it necessary to inventory their food and drink supply and ration it out in small quantities.  Attempts to fortify Franco’s home include the use of duct tape on cracks on the walls, as well as many of Franco’s paintings to barricade the windows and doors.  For the most part, the party continues for days as the group is oblivious as to what’s going on outside.

     Generally speaking, the cause of this mess is simple.  The devil has unleashed his minions on the world and is taking all evil doers to hell with him.  Conversely, God is taking all the do gooders to heaven.  Once this is realized, the group tries to transform themselves from the egotistical, rich snobs they present themselves as, to guys who genuinely care for each other.  In theory, this will get them to heaven, rather than hell.  Along the way, there are some truly funny bits, especially a sequence involving Jonah Hill in the film’s third act.  I’m normally not a fan of Danny McBride’s humor or acting ability, but I have to say his delivery is responsible for many of the biggest laughs.  His debate with Franco about masturbation is as much about his comic talent as it is the writing and a later scene involving a “Pulp Fiction” like gimp brings the film to another level of raunchy.

     “This Is The End” manages just the right mix of sight gags and solid dialogue to put it in the class of other genre comedies such as “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Wedding Crashers”, yet succeeds in coming into its own with the actors playing themselves. Rogen and Goldberg’s writing, clearly influenced by Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, keeps the silly premise afloat with a constant barrage of interesting conversation.  It’s a breath of fresh air really, since these types of comedies are few and far between and are almost always ruined by movie trailers that give too much away.  The fact is, this film is loaded with so many funny scenes, there is no way you could give it all away in a couple minutes.  Thus far, “This Is The End” is the funniest film this year.  GRADE: B