When you hear that an ensemble of Hollywood comedic actors decide to make an apocalypse film where they play themselves, your pretentious Ocean's Twelve senses are rightly tingling. However, writer/directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; and their friends and collaborators James Franco, Craig Robinson, John Hill, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel; manage to create a relentless piss-take of themselves and the disaster genre. THIS IS THE END will leave your stomach and face sore from the assault of filthy humour.
Jay comes to L.A to spend some quality time with his best friend Seth and they're invited to James Franco's house warming party. The guest list that includes Robinson, Hill, Michael Cera, Rihanna, Jason Segal, Aziz Ansari and many more Judd Apatow ensemble regulars (also all playing themselves) is interrupted by the rapture.
Superbad and Pineapple Express scribes Rogen and Goldberg are acutely aware of how easily this high concept premise could have devolved into self-indulgence. Thankfully they're candid enough to put their self-effacing comedy right out front. It's not two minutes in before a reporter is asking Seth to "do the Seth Rogen laugh," or Franco is adorning his palatial fortress adorned with his own artwork dedicated to his friendship with Rogen. Thankfully it's not all tongue in cheek, self-awareness they create genuine faux constructs of the main participants and unleash them upon each other in this crisis. There's a commitment and energy that each of the performer's relish in their portrayals of these tweaked versions of themselves that just reverberates throughout the group. The resulting chemical reaction of these egos bashing against each other makes for universally fun bickering throughout. Franco and McBride having a fight over the right to masturbate in the house uses some of the greatest man-junk euphemisms this reviewer has ever heard. However, Michael Cera's performance dwarves almost every other character and is easily the most outrageous thing you'll have ever have seen from him to date. And while comedy isn't a genre necessarily known for visuals, the direction from Rogen and Goldberg integrates music montages, 'sueded' sequels of their films, video confessionals and frightful elements (both practically and digitally achieved) are really well integrated.
The 147 minute running time is definitely felt in the final act while you're not fully aware of how the story is developing; that said; the finale is well worth the speed bumps.
THIS IS THE END is Rogen, Goldberg and co. bringing the funny, and the dick jokes like their lives depend on it. This uncompromising whimsy makes it one of the best comedies of the year so far.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.