What happens when you put Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and a host of their celebrity friends together at James Franco’s new house? A raging party, complete with a coked-out Michael Cera. Throw in the apocalypse and you have “This is the End,” the first of two apocalyptic comedies coming this summer, the other being Edgar Wright’s “The World’s End.”
Based on the funny short film “Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse,” “This is the End” stars Rogen, Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride trying to survive at Franco’s new house while the apocalypse rages on outside. At first its like a big slumber party with drugs and alcohol, but as soon as Emma Watson steals their supplies and the lone source of pornography is defiled, things start to quickly unravel for the group.
For the most part, “This is the End” feels like a home movie Rogen and his friends made while spending a weekend together, with the exception being they had a special effects budget. Even the arguments between the group are fun, using the right amount of snark and love that makes spending time with a close group of friends so much fun. Fortunately, unlike the dreadful “Grown Ups,” the movie where Adam Sandler and his friends party while a camera films them, the audience gets to have as much fun as the stars. Yes, a movie with a bunch of celebrities playing themselves gets a little too self-serving at times (the “Pineapple Express 2: Blood Red” home movie was great, the jokes about “Green Hornet” and “Your Highness” not so much), but “This is the End” packs in as many laughs as the Rogen and Evan Goldberg scripted “Superbad.” Along with some riotous references to “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist,” “This is the End” is arguably funnier than “Superbad.”
Rogen and Goldberg, both making their directorial debut, clearly have a deft touch with comedy and manage to sprinkle in a few genuine scares. The pair also have zero reservations about showing a demon’s private parts, but mostly they keep the apocalypse light and fun, letting everyone run wild with hilarious improv instead of weighing them down with the grim reality of their situation. Sure, Seth and his friends could be upset and mourn the passing of everyone and everything they know, but why focus on sadness when there’s so much glee to be had in the depraved things everyone commits in order to survive, like drinking urine.
“This is the End” boils down to the friendships between the six people trapped at Franco’s house. As the reality of the apocalypse dawns on the group and they’re forced to flee Franco’s house, its obvious that the only way to survive the apocalypse (and life itself) is with a good group of friends. According to Rogen and Goldberg, the path to redemption is clear: the path to redemption lies in selfless acts of sacrifice, especially in service of your friends. Just don’t get too petty about it.