Jay Baruchel comes to LA to visit his good friend Seth Rogen. Although Baruchel hates the Hollywood lifestyle, he's dragged along to a party at James Franco's house. The party is everything he fears, until the end of the world begins, which is much worse.
Self-parody is a tough line to walk. If you do it without sufficient self-awareness then it’s just confused, awkward clowning. If you’re overly self-lacerating then it somehow becomes smug, ripping yourself to shreds because you know, deep down, you’re still rather brilliant. It’s ballsy to even try, and if This Is The End is occasionally too pleased with itself, it’s more often than not pleasing for everyone.
The story has the funky whiff of an idea dreamt up while everyone was stoned and giggly: Dudes, what would we do if the world ended right now? Like, right now? So you have Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson all playing themselves, the only survivors of an A-list party interrupted by an apocalypse that sucked Rihanna into a flaming maw and skewered Michael Cera on a street lamp like a skinny little cocktail sausage. This is huge fun, with many famous names depicting themselves as variously idiotic, obnoxious and drug-pumped, then getting their comeuppance. And what’s more fun than famous people being pricks and then suffering a screaming death?
The rest is a mixed bag. Holed up in Franco’s ridiculous mansion, the survivors’ fight to stay alive becomes secondary to celebrities bickering and trying to one-up each other. There’s strong smart-silly material, but also entire scenes that flop from the start and just carry on flopping more and more desperately, like dying trout
— does anyone really want several minutes of Danny McBride wanging on about wanking? Oh yes, they bring in Danny McBride too, whose ‘sending himself up as a self-interested fool’ seems very close to ‘Danny McBride’s usual schtick’.
Seth Rogen and his regular writing partner, Evan Goldberg, might not be great self-editors right now, but they are confident first-time directors. They’ve a good feel for action, particularly one monster chase that’s as scary as it is funny. For a disaster movie set in Hollywood you need killer cameos and the intelligence to use them well, and on that front they’re A+. We won’t ruin it for you here, but can confidently say you won’t see a funnier gimp-unmasking this summer
It could use a brutal edit to remove some weak material, but mostly this is a hell of a lot of fun.