Release date: 18th July 2013

Director: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Michael Cera

Review by Peter Gray

The idea of actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves is a gag that doesn’t necessarily hold enough weight to sustain a whole film and given that this angle is the basis of ‘This Is The End’, it’s a relief that something that could’ve gone horribly wrong ends up being the thing that makes the movie.  James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride play themselves in the manner that many critics have accused them of being over the course of their careers; Franco’s pretentious, Rogen’s the stoner accused of playing the same guy in every movie, Hill’s excessively phony, and continually basking in the afterglow of his ‘Moneyball’ Oscar nomination, Baruchel acts above it all as he’s yet to “sell-out”, Robinson’s a one-note joke, and McBride is the crude hellraiser.  Their personas are dead-on, perhaps not entirely removed from their own personalities, and it’s a joke that elevates the film beyond its stunt premise.

The film begins with Baruchel travelling to L.A. where he meets Rogen for a long-overdue catch-up.  After a day of getting stoned and playing video games, the two visit Franco’s mansion for a planned night of debauchery with a group of their Hollywood friends.  This segment is perhaps the highlight of the film with the likes of Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Emma Watson and Rihanna all having fun with their own image, particularly Cera who brilliantly portrays himself as a coke-addled degenerate.  It isn’t long before their wrong-doings are interrupted by a series of catastrophic events that very well may be the start of the apocalypse.  As to be expected from a film involving this cast proceedings from here on out get particularly gross with the end of the world, according to Rogen and co. (the actor writing and directing the film with frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg), being a profanity-laced, explicitly crude, and highly offensive affair.

Whilst the latter half of the film doesn’t shine as brightly as the former, ‘This Is The End’ still maintains a level of consistent humour that more than makes up for some of the star’s own misfires (looking at Rogen’s ‘The Guilt Trip’ as a prime example), which in turn gives the film some of its strongest material as the flops and disappointments the actors have faced in their own careers aren’t off limits with jabs at ‘Spider-Man 3’, ‘The Green Hornet’ and ‘Your Highness’ amongst others mentioned.  The level of self-awareness and the ability for each star to happily take the piss out of themself ultimately gives the film an air of charm, something that shouldn’t be all together surprising given the cast have been collaborating with each other in one way or another for the past 10 years.  As much as everyone brings their A-game, it’s Franco that seems to have the most fun sending himself up as he constantly fights off shots at his own self-importance, and there’s some wonderfully sly nods to his gay-themed work (‘Milk’, ‘Interior Leather Bar’, ‘Howl’) with his home decorated with such art as a giant penis sculpture reminiscent of something seen in ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

If you aren’t a fan of these actors, or of the ‘stoner’ style comedy they’ve come to make their own, you’re unlikely to tolerate ‘This Is The End’, but if ‘Pineapple Express’ and ‘Superbad’ proved up your alley, I dare say you’ll enjoy this.  And if you can manage to avoid spoilers, the film offers up one of the best cameos, if not the best, seen this year – it alone is worth the price of admission.

My rating 3.5/5 (If this is the end, we’re going out on a laugh)

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