Be nice. Be honest. Put others first. Do these things because they are the right things to do. And because otherwise, you just might get left behind when the Rapture pulls all the good people to Heaven and leaves everybody else to a Hell on earth where monsters roam freely, fiery sinkholes swallow up sinners and pudgy warlords force men to become their dogs.
In 2007 actor/writer/co-director Seth Rogen and writer/co-director Evan Goldberg made a nine-minute short film titled Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse for roughly $3,000. The film was never shown, but the 85-second trailer made the rounds.
This Is the End is their feature-length adaptation of that comic short. What they've cooked up is snarky, juvenile, self-serving and, when you least expect it, surprisingly sweet without betraying its feisty nature. The movie is stuffed with jokes: for every one that falls flat there's a winner coming a second later.
The cast uses their real names and plays exaggerated versions of themselves (sometimes insanely exaggerated, as in the case of mild Michael Cera, hilariously portrayed as a coke-snorting sexual wild man with women hanging off of him like ornaments on a Christmas tree). The device invites the viewer inside the world of L.A. actors, here presented mostly as self-absorbed, neurotic, entitled schmoozers. It's indulgent, allowing the cast to take shots at each other's career missteps while charging people to see it, but a lot of their riffing is funny.
The set-up: Jay Baruchel flies in from Canada to visit his best friend Seth Rogen. Baruchel is ready for a relaxed visit filled with dope smoking and video games, but Rogen drags him to a housewarming party at James Franco's new place, a cubist spectacle designed by Franco himself. Baruchel hates the L.A. showbiz scene and especially doesn't want to have to interact with the unctuous Jonah Hill, but ends up in the middle of the star-studded event, feeling left out and abandoned by his friend.
Then the Apocalypse starts. Flaming holes open up in the earth, demons strike, civilization crumbles. The good folks are raptured away, leaving the sinners in the middle of the mess. The party dissolves, leaving Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Hill and Craig Robinson trapped in the Franco estate. They are visited later by Danny McBride and Emma Watson.
The bulk of the comedy follows the five guys as they try to deal with their circumstance. Body function jokes abound, as do numerous personal digs. Allegiances are formed, then broken. There's lots of scrapping over food and drink. Just when the homebound setting starts to wear out its welcome, the men are forced to move outside, leading to a conclusion built on first grade Bible School theology that allows a happy ending for some.
Credit the five guys for their solid ensemble work. Points to Michael Cera, Danny McBride, Emma Watson and a host of others for rollicking cameos. And to the A-list actor playing the ... um, dog, a gold star for being such a good sport. This Is the End is tasteless. Enjoy.