I think James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and especially Danny McBride and Michael Cera are going to get crossed off a lot of Christmas party guest lists this year. After what happens at their party in This Is the End, the image of any of these guys near the Chex mix might be disconcerting.
Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg make a directorial debut for the ages with this one, a caustically funny, blood-drenched satire of Hollywood vanity and Biblical end times. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is safe in this movie, which has Rogen and a bunch of his film cronies playing themselves. For the most part, they don’t behave civilly when the Devil comes knocking with his huge junk hanging out and apocalyptic hellfire burns the Hollywood hills.
When Jay Baruchel comes to Hollywood to visit Rogen, he is dragged against his will to self-centered James Franco’s new, incredible house—which he has, of course, designed himself—for a blowout party featuring the likes of Cera jacked up on coke and slapping Rihanna’s ass. Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and an uninvited Danny McBride are all in attendance, along with nearly everybody else of comedic relevance in today’s movie world.
Baruchel and Rogen go out for smokes and watch helplessly as blue beams of light suck convenience store patrons up into the sky. When they return to Franco’s, the ground opens up, and most of the partygoers meet their demise in gruesome ways. (Poor, perverted Michael Cera gets the nastiest exit.)
The core group of Rogen, Franco, Hill, Robinson and Baruchel survive and take inventory of their food and beverages. Matters get worse when an oblivious McBride awakens and eats most of their stuff. There’s constant infighting about who gets the sole Milky Way, and masturbatory practices ensue while the stage is set for Satan’s earthly return.
Not surprisingly, McBride is the biggest jerk of the bunch, not departing far from his usual movie persona. Hill gets ribbed for thinking he’s too good for anybody after Moneyball, and Franco is the Renaissance Man who decorates his house with his own art.
There’s an anarchic spirit at play with this project. Rogen and Goldberg get their stars to do mighty unsavory things in this film (Cera’s three-way in a bathroom scene, for instance.) And major props go to Emma Watson for taking part in something that has her behaving in a way that would make Hermione puke.
On top of being very funny, Rogen and Goldberg manage a pretty decent horror show here, replete with decapitations, impaling, burnings and Devils with the aforementioned really big private parts. In the future, when you are planning a horror comedy night at home, this one will go nicely slotted next to the likes of Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive.
The whole enterprise reminded me of Ghostbusters, a movie that successfully mixed big comedic star elements with sci-fi and horror. Rogen and Goldberg mix genres with much success. Oh, I forgot to mention, this is a stoner comedy, too. There’s a lot of weed in this movie. Hey, Rogen and Franco are in it, so what did you expect?
Some of these guys have been screwing up a bit as of late. Rogen made the wasteful The Guilt Trip with Barbra Streisand, Franco bored me with Oz: The Great and Powerful and Spring Breakers, and both McBride and Franco stunk up movie theaters with Your Highness, a mixed genre failure to the highest degree.
This Is the End gets them all back on track and reestablishes them as the reigning kings of Hollywood comedy. However, I think that there’s virtually no chance for a franchise here, unless Rogen and Goldberg care to satirize the afterlife.