A doomsday comedy in which Judd Apatow buddies like Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride play versions of themselves? It’s understandable if This Is the End smells to you like an exercise in Hollywood navel-gazing, a self-referential, oh-so-meta vanity project at its worst. Just don’t let that stop you from seeing the movie, though, because when the curtain falls on 2013, This Is the End is certainly going to remain standing as the year’s filthiest, most messed up, out of the box, unexpectedly smart and hilarious comedy. Lots and lots of people are going to despise this movie; others may find it inspired.
The setup is simple. Rogen (who wrote and codirected with Evan Goldberg) and Hollywood-hating Jay Baruchel head off to the Hollywood Hills housewarming party at James Franco’s insanely lavish new house where stars like Michael Cera, Emma Watson and party favors of every variety are plentiful. Then, whoops, full-on apocalypse and the rampant fires, riots, panic, looting, earthquakes and creepy-crawly monsters force the six very, very funny survivors to hole themselves up inside, where they get to deal with the real hell: each other.
The raunchy, hit-or-miss thing is more than a few bong hits away from full Tropic Thunder-level satire, and in its last third it goes for sweetness and redemption. But all in all, this flick is such a huge, loopy, enjoyable goof, just hang out with it and enjoy the contact high.