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20 Jun 2013

Laughing During the Apocalypse: 'This Is the End' Is a Horror/Comedy Delight

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The assembled gang in This Is The End. The assembled gang in This Is The End.

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, nobody’s going to want them anywhere near the Chex mix.

Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, make a co-directorial debut for the ages with this caustically funny, blood-drenched satire of Hollywood vanity and biblical end times. Nobody is safe in this movie, in which Rogen and a bunch of his film cronies play themselves. They behave rather poorly as apocalyptic hellfire burns the Hollywood Hills, and the devil comes knocking with his huge junk hanging out.

When Baruchel comes to Hollywood to visit Rogen, he is dragged against his will to James Franco’s incredible new house—which Franco has, of course, designed himself—for a blowout party, where Cera is jacked up on coke and slapping Rihanna’s ass. Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and an uninvited Danny McBride are also 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 into the sky. When they return to the house, the ground opens up, and most of the partygoers meet their demise in gruesome ways. (Poor, perverted Michael Cera gets the nastiest exit.)

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. Constant infighting and masturbatory practices ensue while the stage is set for Satan’s earthly return.

Not surprisingly, McBride is the biggest jerk of the bunch, echoing his usual movie persona. Hill gets ribbed for thinking he’s too good for everyone else after Moneyball, and Franco is the Renaissance Man who decorates his house with his own, self-created art.

An anarchic spirit is at play with this project. Rogen and Goldberg get their stars to do mighty unsavory things (Cera’s three-way in the bathroom, for instance). 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 the ample humor, Rogen and Goldberg manage a pretty decent horror show, with decapitations, impalings, burnings and Satan with the aforementioned huge privates. In the future, when you are planning a horror/comedy night at home, this one will go along nicely with Evil Dead 11 and Dead Alive.

The enterprise reminded me of Ghostbusters, a movie that successfully mixed big comedic-star elements with sci-fi and horror. Oh, this is a stoner comedy, too. 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 re-establishes them as the reigning kings of Hollywood comedy.

This Is the End is playing at theaters across the valley.

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