Where do you want to be when the world ends? I’m not sure it’s my top choice, but “a party at James Franco’s house” now ranks right up there.
“This Is the End” is an ensemble, buddy, end-of-the-world comedy — not exactly an overstuffed genre, so let’s give them points for originality.
The key here is that the buddies are Seth Rogen’s buddies. What could have been a vanity project really soars because of the talent involved.
Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel) arrives in Los Angeles to visit his friend Seth Rogen (Rogen). After catching up over some video games, junk food and illegal subtances (this is a stoner apocalypse comedy), they head to a party at the home of their friend James Franco (James Franco).
When Jay and Seth leave the party to buy a pack of smokes, the Apocalypse hits the fan. What at first seems like an earthquake goes a bit more fire and brimstone, so the two return to Franco’s mansion. As chaos reigns outside, they bunker down with Franco and fellow party attendees Craig Robinson (Craig Robinson), Jonah Hill (Jonah Hill) and Danny McBride (Danny McBride).
OK, in case you didn’t catch on, all these comedians are playing themselves, and they have a blast with this concept, especially when they’re willing to do self-deprecating takes on their own celebrity. A brief appearance by Michael Cera playing against type totally steals the film, by the way.
The on-screen/off-screen friends rag on each other about failed projects (in fairness, I thought “Your Highness” wasn’t that bad) and their Hollywood personas. Trapped in the house, cast members also record “Real World”-style video confessionals, a gag which is good for some free-form riffing and even more laughs from a cast without a weak link.
Rogen co-directs with his friend and “Superbad” co-writer Evan Goldberg, expanding on a short film Rogn shot with Baruchel. Sometimes the idea wears a little thin, but they keep things unexpected and make great use of a special effects budget for comedic effect. If you like raunchy, violent comedy, don’t miss this.
There’s still room for Edgar Wright’s Apocalyptic pub-crawl comedy “The World’s End” to top this, but it’s looking to be a great summer for it all to end.