Actors have roughly one opportunity to lampoon themselves, and it normally comes in a short cameo role at the end of their careers with no guarantee of the success. Think Sam Jones in Ted and David Hasselhof in Piranha 3DD – one inspired appearance, the other insipid. For This Is The End we get a rare spoofing of the personas of current comic talent such as Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jonah Hill as a massive James Franco (not particularly known for his comic timing) party is interrupted by the apocalypse. Directed by common collaborator with the gang Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express (2011), The Green Hornet (2008) and Superbad (2007)), there’s plenty of scope for them to poke fun at each other’s missteps, and the star turn cameos serve as welcome curve balls on their real life personas on and off-screen.
The first half hour is a hilarious insight into the Hollywood party lifestyle as Rogen welcomes Baruchel to L.A. with the promise of hanging out together. They drink, play video games and smoke weed before Rogen suggests dropping by Franco’s party at his new pad, which goes down like a lead balloon with Baruchel – he hates Rogen’s hip A-list friends and has a serious dislike of Jonah Hill. Still they go and we get a spoof fly-on-the-wall-style insight into how the funnymen struggle to get on in a room together as Earth erupts into flames and demons rampage outside. Rogen is given all the “plays the same guy everytime” jibes while much is made of the fake issue of Baruchel hating all Rogen’s mates while they try to make him feel welcome. Meanwhile Franco is painted as a rich playboy with more money than sense, and the cameos just keep coming.
We get a spoof fly-on-the-wall-style insight into how the funnymen struggle to get on in a room together as Earth erupts into flames and demons rampage outside.
Emma Watson, Rhianna, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Paul Rudd get some quality lines, but it is the short-lived appearance of a coke-snorting, three-way loving, obnoxious Michael Cera that really hits the spot and will have you in stitches as he turns the table on his nice-guy image. Then the apocalypse hits and it is down to Rogen, Hill, Robinson, Baruchel and Franco to try to work out how they’ll survive holed up in Franco’s pad with limited supplies. Then McBride turns up, cooks up all the supplies for a surprise breakfast and it’s a Big Brother-like situation as the in-fighting and in-jokes escalate with nods to some a few classics and amusing swipes at Pineapple Express and The Green Hornet.
Although This is the End runs out of momentum just before the end despite a Channing Tatum surprise, the energy the sextet put into every scene carries the movie on a laugh-a-minute opening into a very clever mid section which really plays on their individual comic talents. The final third suffers from a feeling they weren’t really sure how to conclude the film, but the first hour is so strong you won’t care. Apocalypse movies have been far too serious for too long, and This is the End will challenge the Pegg/Wright/Frost effort of The World’s End in cinemas now for this summer’s best blockbuster comedy.