Anything goes in "This is the End" … and why not? After all, the movie takes place during the apocalypse, so if you're going to go out, it might as well be with one raunchy and politically incorrect bang. No matter if the devil made them do it, this expertly staged satire by some of Hollywood's hottest comedy stars is laugh-out-loud hilarious and by far the funniest movie of the year.
Based on a 2007 short film "Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse" starring Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, the expanded version finds the duo plus a couple dozen other famous faces in Hollywood who are gleefully game to lampoon themselves and the La-La-Land lifestyle. It's a genius idea that rises far above the mostly stale, cookie-cutter comedy offerings we've seen at the movies this summer so far.
"The End" begins with Seth and Jay, a pair of longtime buddies who previously shared the big screen in 2007's "Knocked Up." Indifferent to the ways of Hollywood, Jay flies into Los Angeles from his native Canada merely to hang out with his old friend, and after some nudging, agrees to attend a celebrity-laden, sex and drug-laced bash at James Franco's house.
Needing to get a breath of fresh air from the likes Jason Segel, Rihanna, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mindy Kaling and Michael Cera (who brilliantly plays against his fresh-faced type as an out-of-control letch knee deep in a sex-filled cocaine binge) Jay and Seth step out to get some smokes at a local convenience store. Without warning the end of the world begins, as a mysterious beams of blue light pull people up into the sky. Out in the streets chaos ensues with crashes, explosions and flames everywhere.
High-tailing it back to the Franco fortress, Jay and Seth discover everybody is virtually oblivious to what's going on, until an earth-shattering boom draws them outside. For the unfortunate many, a sinkhole opens in the earth, drawing them into fiery depths of hell -- but Jay, Seth, James, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson find safety in James' seemingly solid compound, hoping to ride out whatever strange phenomena they're experiencing. While there are minor tiffs between them, the situation becomes combustible when fellow actor Danny McBride turns up.
See the trailer for "This is the End" below.
Co-written and co-directed by Rogen and his production partner Evan Goldberg (who also directed the 2007 short), "This is the End" is a wonderful mix of horror, gross-out humor and satire. If the three somehow found a way to mate, you could think of "The End" as the deliciously evil spawn of any film by Judd Apatow, writer-director Kevin Smith's "Dogma" and any "South Park" episode involving Satan. There are too many gut-busting funny scenes to count, and at least one -- an expletive-filled rant between Franco and McBride over the latter's impulses when he finds Franco's only porn magazine -- easily qualifies as an instant classic.
While "This is the End" could easily get by on its smart and snappy dialogue, the film spares no expense when it comes to its convincing special effects. Particularly impressive is the fiery rendering of the devil himself, a gigantic terrifying entity (think the Balrog from "The Lord of the Rings"), who stomps the streets of L.A. looking to swallow up anybody he sees.
Naturally, some audience members will be too grossed out by the horror scenes and crude humor, and be offended by some of the film's graphic sexual content. But again, since this is the end of the world, the stars and filmmakers really don't care what you think. No subject is off-limits and while the guys no doubt cross the line a couple times, it's hardly enough reason to skip this party to end all parties. It's a real riot.
"This is the End," rated R, 3 1/2 stars out of 4.
Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press gives the film 2 1/2 stars, saying the film has its share of hits and misses. "A decent percentage of the insults hit their targets, but the extended improvisation doesn't make for an especially disciplined film," Hewitt writes.
Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the movie 1 star, writing "the badness of this smirky, juvenile hard-R comedy is incalculable."
Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.