Movie Review: ‘This Is the End’

In Theaters

“This Is the End,” written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jason Stone (based on the short film ‘Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse’), directed by Rogen and Goldberg, 107 minutes, rated R.

Here’s one of the strangest and funniest end-of-the-world scenarios in film history: James Franco’s Hollywood housewarming party comes to a screeching halt when a series of earthquakes, wildfires, strange blue lights and a strategically placed sinkhole kill off all but six of Franco’s guests.

This is the basic setup for “This Is the End,” a self-referential comedy that often feels like one giant inside joke, only everyone’s invited. In fact, much of the humor relies on the movie’s somewhat esoteric nature, as the all-star cast, featuring Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, play variations on themselves. Some, such as Rogen and Baruchel, seem fairly true to life, while Franco borders on parody and Hill is just plain peculiar.

As the world falls apart around them, the six friends hole up in Franco’s art-filled home, boarding up the windows and waiting for help to arrive. As resources become scarce, tensions run high, but instead of the edge-of-your-seat uneasiness usually associated with this storyline, we get uncomfortable interactions that yield some of the best comedy in film this year.

As the six friends build and break relationships, “This Is the End” makes sure to milk every ounce of humor in every scene, often extending some of the stupidest moments until you find yourself doubled over laughing. Stemming from arguments over a single Milky Way or pornography, the actors find every excuse to somehow dredge up petty gripes from the past, taking out their frustrations on a confessional cam a la “The Real World.”

Though the premise isn’t all that original, and at times the direction feels a little like “Harold and Kumar,” the delivery of this material is tailored to my taste. It’s part slacker comedy, part bromance, and part James Franco experiment. Those are all good things.

There are very few comedies that can continually deliver throughout all three acts without losing momentum. “This Is the End” is one such film.

Grade: A-

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