It’s no minor accomplishment to make one of the most indulgent projects in Hollywood history. But with “This Is the End,” Seth Rogen and his pals have indeed achieved this dubious goal.
The concept is that Jay Baruchel has just arrived in town and, despite his deeply antisocial tendencies, agrees to join Rogen at the party. He’s instantly miserable, but things soon get a lot worse: the Apocalypse has arrived, and nearly everyone is either spirited heavenward or drawn toward the fiery pits below.
Among those left behind are Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, who have to figure out how to survive while holed up in Franco’s house. While all of them are very good at pretending to have real-life skills, none is particularly useful in an actual disaster.Like their previous stoner comedies (“Pineapple Express,” “Your Highness”), this goofy collaboration — written and directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg — veers toward extremes of hit or miss. At its riotous best, the B-movie vibe is a blast, with the guys willing to go all out for a laugh. But they’re also so thrilled with themselves that the movie nearly drowns in a sea of smugness.
It’s fun, at first, when these famous faces tweak their own images.
But is there really anything clever about Hill pointing out that he’s an Oscar nominee? About Franco acknowledging that he’s obscenely wealthy, or McBride playing yet another clueless jerk?
Even Michael Cera’s turn as an aggressive cokehead would feel a lot wittier if he hadn’t just done the same thing in “The End of Love” three months ago.
The truth is, self-mockery is really just another form of self-congratulation; these guys can afford to make fun of themselves because, as they repeatedly remind us, they’re a lot more successful than the average ticket buyer.
There are big laughs to be had here, for sure. But don’t be fooled by the in-joke vibe. They aren’t inviting you to their party; they’re inviting you to stand on the other side of the velvet rope, to watch them have a blast in the VIP area. And what’s more, they expect you to subsidize the whole affair.
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