The Bottom Line
Should you see it?
Seeing all these famous friends go crazy together is a blast. The fact the movie contains an actual story is just a bonus.
Directed by writing partners Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and based on Rogen and Jason Stone's short film Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, This is the End is is pure goofball madness, a self-aware freestyle of comedic one-upmanship that actually tells a surprisingly heartwarming little story also. Don't be fooled, the guys make fun of each other in the name of big laughs, but it's not mean-spirited like some other recent movies we won't mention here (HANGOVER 3).
Based on a version of reality, This is the End begins with the Los Angeles-hating Canadain Jay (Baruchel) visiting his buddy Seth (Rogen) for a weekend of weed smoking, video game playing, and other assorted bro activities. Soon, Jay tentatively agrees to go to a party at James Franco's house. He's worried Seth will leave him alone amongst the celebs he doesn't know and he'll get caught in awkward situations. Jay also reveals he has no desire to see Jonah Hill, whom he "hates" thanks to previous run-in. Seth shrugs it off, offering a fascinating possible window into both actors' real lives. It seems entirely plausible Baruchel, easily the least well-known of the cast, wouldn't want to go Hollywood his first night in town, while Rogen, as one of the biggest stars working today, absolutely would .
This opening sequence is a joy to watch. It's a skewed look inside the lives of these famous comedians. Thanks to the improvisational nature of the shoot, there's an insightful level of honesty to the comedy. The relationship between Baruchel and Rogen especially rings true, but just about every interaction seems partially based in real life, including the non-stop ball-busting (some great shots are thrown at some of the guys' less popular films like The Green Hornet and Your Highness). Plus, Jonah wears a diamond earring and proudly references Moneyball—doesn't that just make sense?
The world outside seems pretty real also (save for a billboard advertising the new movie Ninja Rapist), which makes the sudden appearance of the Apocalypse so weird and funny. Rogen and Goldberg go the biblical route, depicting End Times and the Rapture as Christian eschatology sees it. First a giant sinkhole appears in Franco's front yard, swallowing different screaming celebrities. Then Satan walks the Earth and beams of light rain down from the heavens lifting privileged souls into heaven.
Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Robinson, Hill, and McBride hole up in Franco's house and board the doors and windows up. The main idea for the script shines through: What would happen if you just stayed in the house while the Apocalypse was happening outside? The concept is made more fun by the fact the dudes in the house are six of the funniest comedians working today.
The boys fluctuate between outright fear, acceptance, hope ("Who're the first people they save? Actors." Rogen says), anger, and paranoia ("You wanna vote me off the island?" McBride asks), before giving in to their fate with guilty confessions ("I fucked Lohan." Franco admits). The insanity of what's happening outside feeds the insanity of what's happening inside so when Emma Watson shows up with an axe, it's just another brick in the wall of craziness. The Apocalypse allows for anything to happen and that's a dream recipe for a comedy. The fact this film carries out an actual plot is a tribute to the professionalism of the actors, but also to directors Rogen and Goldberg, who preside over it all.