‘This Is The End’ has laughs, weed, and just maybe the end of the world

From left to right: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride fight to survive the apocalypse in 'This is the End'
James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride fight to survive the apocalypse in ‘This is the End’

Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are very close friends in real life, and that friendship is where This Is The End begins. Jay’s come to the L.A. area to visit his friend Seth, and after spending hours smoking weed and doing other fun stuff, Seth wants to take Jay to a party at James Franco’s house. Jay doesn’t want to go, because he believes none of Seth’s friends like him. However Seth promises to stay by his side the whole time and Jay accedes to Seth’s desires and goes to the party.

The place is packed and Jay’s concerns come to pass. So he decides to go to the local convenience store for some smokes, and Seth goes with him. While they are there, something happens. Beams of blue light come down from the sky and lift some of the store’s patrons into the heavens. This is immediately followed by fires, car crashes and general mayhem.

The pair flees back to Franco’s house just in time to watch the largest earthquake in California history open a gaping chasm in front of the house, swallowing up most of the partygoers. Five people survive and barricade themselves in the house. It’s Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and of course Rogen and Baruchel. They figure that because they are “important” celebrities they will be rescued first, and decide they will wait it out. They inventory the available food, water and drugs and agree to ration them out. That is when Danny McBride enters the picture. He’d fallen asleep upstairs after crashing the party and proceeds to become a major problem to the others.

Emma Watson returns to the house (she’d been at the party earlier), armed with an ax. She lays down to rest, but a misunderstanding frightens her and she robs the men of all of their drinks. They manage to get into the basement to get two jugs of water that were there but McBride wastes a lot of it. The others vote to evict him. Will they be rescued? Will they survive long enough to be rescued? Is Baruchel right, and this is the apocalypse and they still might be saved by the blue beams?

Just as 1986 was the year of the fighter pilot movie (Top Gun and Iron Eagle), 1997 the year of movies about Steve Prefontaine (Without Limits and Prefontaine) and volcanoes (Dante’s Peak and Volcano), and 1998 the year of celestial bodies threatening the Earth (Deep Impact and Armageddon); 2013 is the year of movies about the apocalypse. Both this film and Rapture-Palooza, which is out in limited release involve the apocalypse and specifically the possibility of the Rapture taking place. World’s End, a British comedy in a similar vein is due out later this year.

This is the low-brow humor version and that is what makes it effective. Asking actors to play themselves is not as easy as it sounds, but it is something they can and will throw themselves into with all they’ve got. We aren’t going to see how they really behave, but how the writers chose to have them behave. The product is interesting performances and it makes for great conflicts. Rogen and Evan Goldberg who write and direct, do a solid job here. It’s isn’t magnificent, genius movie-making, but it’s a solid effort. You will laugh.

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