‘This Is the End’ a crude laugh fest
“This Is the End” is actually the beginning — of me enjoying a blockbuster comedy this year.
With dismal memories of “The Hangover Part III” and lingering PTSD from February’s abhorrent “Identity Thief,” 2013 hasn’t been a very good year for funny.
But leave it to Seth Rogen and company to make it better with a loosely scripted and outright hilarious ensemble comedy about the apocalypse.
Starring the Judd Apatow gang’s repeat offenders as parodies of themselves, “This Is the End” plays like a biting, no-holds-barred, exultantly crass and gleefully self-indulgent laugh fest. End-of-the-world scenario aside, it’s like being treated to a candid performance from some of today’s leading funnymen.
It’s not for everyone, particularly the queasy and easily offended. But those who buy the ticket are in for a hell of a funny ride.
Jay Baruchel (“Knocked Up”) arrives in Los Angeles to spend the weekend with best chum Seth Rogen (“Pineapple Express”). Taking a break from smoking weed and playing video games, the two — Baruchel quite reluctantly — decide to attend a star-studded party at James Franco’s (TV’s “Freaks and Geeks”) posh new house.
They arrive to the likes of womanizing coke fiend Michael Cera (TV’s “Arrested Development”), a sycophantic Jonah Hill (“Superbad”), a crooning Craig Robinson (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and a snooty Emma Watson (the “Harry Potter” series), among countless others — Jason Segel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Aziz Ansari, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling and even Rihanna, to name a few, all in full self-deprecation mode.
All wantonly perpetuate the Hollywood stereotype that Baruchel has grown to loathe, which has even become a strain on his and best bud Rogen’s friendship. He’s about to come clean with Rogen when the unthinkable happens — the biblical apocalypse.
The worthy are promptly raptured into the heavens, but Franco and company (big surprise) are left untouched — until a gaping hellhole opens in the front yard, consuming about 85 percent of the cast. In a horrified panic, Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Robinson and Hill retreat to the relatively safe confines of Franco’s pad, where they hope to ride out what everyone’s thinking is a major earthquake.
The next morning, they awaken to find that Danny McBride (HBO’s “Eastbound and Down”) had passed out in the bathtub and, as a cure to everyone’s assumed hangover, has used almost all the stores for a full-course breakfast.
Now, they must attempt to ride out the Apocalypse with dwindling supplies, but an ample variety of drugs, booze and props from James Franco movies.
But while they’re adequately entertained, at least for a little while, everyone must soon come to terms with the situation at hand, learning to deal with it and face some ugly truths, namely why they weren’t spared the horrors of the end of days.
Ultimately, “This Is the End” is a largely improvised and sidesplittingly funny tale of friendship and redemption, delivering laughs — and cringes aplenty — around almost every corner, along with some not-so-veiled commentary on the state of Hollywood.
Written and directed by longtime collaborators Rogen and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”), the film plays as such, like something created by a group of friends who enjoy each other’s company and a good laugh. Like so, the cast is obviously having fun, and it’s contagious.
With their off-the-cuff dialogue and comfortable chemistry, our six protagonists make a hilarious ensemble, while the film’s slew of cameos — particularly Cera, who practically bludgeons his typecasted persona into the ground — is a tongue-in-cheek treat for the fans.
It all adds up to what’s possibly, so far, the funniest comedy of 2013. And let’s hope it doesn’t end here.
“This Is the End,” rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.