Seth Rogen and James Franco lead an all-star cast in the new end-of-the-world comedy "This Is the End." Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following review for NY1.
"This Is the End" is the wildest screen comedy in a long time, and also the smartest, the most fearlessly inspired, and the snort-out-loud funniest.
The movie opens with Seth Rogen at an airport, and we quickly learn that he's playing a version of himself. In fact, everyone in the movie is playing a version of his or herself. Rogen picks up his buddy Jay Baruchel, and after getting stoned, they head to a party at James Franco's house. Everyone from Jonah Hill to Emma Watson is there, and what transpires looks so much like what you'd expect a party with hip young actors and comedians to look like that it's as if we'd wandered into the ultimate episode of "Entourage."
Then, Rogen and Baruchel head out to a convenience store to feed their munchies, and they hear a "crack," and blue light pours down from the heavens. It's not just an earthquake: it's the Rapture. The world is coming to an end! The two hustle back to the party, and before long there are just five of them left in that house: Rogen, Franco, Hill, Baruchel, and Craig Robinson. They’re soon joined by a totally unhinged and off-the-hook Danny McBride.
For a while, I feared "This Is the End" might be a stunt that wears out its welcome in 10 minutes. But Rogen, who co-wrote and directed the film with Evan Goldberg, does something incredibly sly. The movie doesn't play the end of days for laughs. It's an honest-to-God metaphysical disaster movie, a fusion of "Earthquake," "2012," "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Exorcist." With the apocalypse played straight, the comedy can take off from it in a way that's all the more explosive, as it was in the great "Shaun of the Dead."
Inside Franco's house, the movie-star self-absorption gets raised to an insane new pitch of competitive backbiting. The interplay is so fast and obscene you feel like you're eavesdropping on the sorts of things comedians say to each other when they're off camera.
Yet through it all, "This Is the End" remains wonderfully deadpan about the so-called "celebrity reality" it's showing us. Is Jonah Hill really a narcissist who wears his nice-guy facade like the diamond stud in his ear? Is Rogen really a guilty sellout? "This Is the End" has great fun tweaking their public images, even as it's truly asking: Do people like this deserve to go to heaven or hell? The answer will crack you up and lift you up high.