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This is the End Poster

This is the End

Genre: Comedy

Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

Cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: June 12th 2013

When a group of well-known celebrities collaborate on a film, diagnosis the results can be catastrophic.

In Movie 43 (2013), we saw a dozen A-list actors embarrass themselves in a series of disparate and disgusting video segments. Likewise, in New Year’s Eve (2011), director Garry Marshall brought a great cast together (Robert De Niro, Hilary Swank and Halle Berry, to name a few) with horrendous results.

The new comedy This is the End is different. Unlike the others, this one recognizes the silliness of celebrity and embraces the idea of its all-star crew mocking themselves for a few good laughs.

The story is a slim one. Jay Baruchel is visiting Los Angeles for a weekend with his buddy Seth Rogen (they, along with most of the cast, play themselves). The two spend their time using drugs and then Rogen decides drags his friend to James Franco’s house for a massive party. Baruchel, an ordinary guy who just wants to spend time with Rogen, dislikes most celebrities but reluctantly agrees. Unfortunately for them, Franco’s party also marks the beginning of the end of the world.

What are the odds?

The cast (which also includes Michael Cera, Craig T. Robinson and Emma Watson) often play extreme versions of their “celebrity personalities.” In real life, Franco is known for his embrace of art (whatever that might be) and evaluating it with a liberal mindset. In the film, he therefore sees art everywhere and is shocked when others feel differently. When Baruchel, for instance, admits that he doesn’t like art, it looks like a part of Franco’s soul has died. How can anyone not like art!

But as the apocalypse takes center stage, the celebrities lose their cool and turn on each other. As celebrities start dying (and yes, some of them die rather quickly), the comedy gets even more creative. With nods to a lot of their former films, these actors prove adept at mocking their own cinematic shortcomings.

Unlike some older celebrities (who no doubt would steer miles away from this project), these professionals prove that they warmly accept the silliness of their profession. And when the going gets rough, they all realize that they are no different than anyone else.

“We pretend to be hard, man” in front of the camera, Robinson admits when he becomes scared senseless by the world collapsing around them.

Rogen and collaborator Evan Goldberg wrote and directed the movie, and the sense of excitement that they likely had for it is present in nearly every scene. This whole idea had the potential of being a disastrous concept. Celebrities mocking themselves and some of their films (Rogen even snuck in a few Green Hornet jokes) sounds like it could be an utter disaster.

Instead this hilarious film manages to stay afloat, even when it offers up a more serious subplot about moral redemption in its latter half. And of course, a few celebrities surprise in great cameos along the way.

Those turned off by crude humor should steer clear but for those looking for a few grand laughs, This is the End is a great place to find them.

Review by: John Hanlon