"This Is The End" is the love child of the "Pineapple Express" and "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny." It's the way movie fans imagine Hollywood, with stars hobnobbing with one another and having a grand old time. Everyone plays (what we hope are) fictional versions of themselves, so it's easy to keep track of names.
Jay Baruchel visits Seth Rogen in Los Angeles, and after the obligatory afternoon of smoking pot, they head over to James Franco's housewarming party. Everyone there is having a great time with alcohol, drugs and sex — especially Michael Cera, in a very atypical role. Baruchel doesn't feel comfortable with the Hollywood crowd, so he manages to pry Rogen away from the party to accompany him to the local convenience store for cigarettes.
While they're out and about, numerous blue rays are beaming up people across the city. The duo fights through the explosions and car crashes to take cover at Franco's party — only to find that nothing has happened to the party or the partygoers. After a big earthquake hits, everyone runs outside to see that Hollywood has gone up in flames, and sinkholes are appearing everywhere. A lot of people meet their end, but Baruchel, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Rogen survive and hope that, as famous movie stars, they'll be quickly rescued.
The next morning, Danny McBride joins the group. As the days pass, Baruchel begins to believe that the occurrences match the Apocalypse predicted in the Book of Revelations. Others also start believing this, and they each take different paths based on their feelings about the situation. Emma Watson makes a brief appearance as an ax-wielding badass but leaves the group after a misunderstanding.
"This Is The End" does not bill itself as a serious film, and it certainly follows through in that respect. This is pretty much the behavior that you'd expect from five guys who are cooped up in a house, regardless of the circumstances. They make fun of each other's successes and failures. They get on each other's nerves. They don't respect each other's property. There are dick jokes. It's certainly not sophisticated humor, but the film benefits from the feeling that this was the product of a few friends getting together and filming a fun gag. The movie is an expansion of a well-received short film that was posted on the Internet, so the plot sometimes suffers. Then again, this is a film about the Apocalypse in Hollywood, so I'm not sure how much one should expect from the plot in the first place.
With movies like this, there's always the concern that all of the good scenes were included in the trailer, and there's no new content once you pony up your cash and walk into the theater. Luckily, "This Is The End" still has plenty of surprise laughs — most likely because the scenes wouldn't have been acceptable in trailers, redband or otherwise.
This isn't a big-budget film, and much of the movie is filmed indoors, but the scenes showcasing the intense destruction around the city look really good. The vehicular chaos and the sinkholes are particularly impressive, given what they had to work with. They also saved a lot on the clothing budget, since everyone stays in the same clothes for much of the film, with the exception of Franco, since it takes place at his house and he has access to his closet.
There are fun nods to other movies, such as "The Exorcist." The guys also refer to Franco as "The Green Goblin" and Rogen as "The Green Hornet." They also rib McBride and tell him that he shouldn't film a sequel to his box office bomb, "Your Highness."
The actors do a good job of playing slightly altered versions of themselves. Baruchel looks worried and neurotic as usual, but Franco actually benefits from this film because he comes across as less of a know-it-all narcissist. Hill's portrayal suffers the most here, as he is mean and two-faced. Robinson appears to be his jolly self as he is clad in a "Take Yo Panties Off" t-shirt for the entire movie.
The soundtrack is definitely eclectic. There's some rap, hip hop, and rock. The credits showcase Black Sabbath's new single, "End of the Beginning." In a particularly bromance-esque scene between Baruchel and Rogen, the soundtrack pipes in "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. And then the Backstreet Boys show up.
"This Is The End" isn't going to be receiving any awards from The Academy, but if you liked "Pineapple Express" and/or "Tenacious D" and you're in the mood for some chuckles, check it out.
"This Is The End" is rated "R" and has a running time of 1 hour and 46 minutes. It is showing in 2-D.
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