"Effectively the same joke stretched out for over an hour..."
You can picture exactly how the idea for This is the End first came into fruition. Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg were sitting in their underwear, smoking a joint and eating pretzels. They had Pineapple Express playing on a loop in the distance on their 42 inch flat-screen TV, carelessly flicking ash on the floor of their multimillion dollar mansion that they share in Beverley Hills. They thought, wouldn't it be funny if we got loads of our friends to make a movie with us where we can all play ourselves? It'll be really funny and people will love it. No Seth and Evan. No they will not.
So Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to visit his old friend Seth Rogen, and with an evening planned of smoking copious amounts of marijuana and doing, well, nothing, Rogen manages to persuade his reluctant guest to take a trip to James Franco's house warming party. Although the likes of Emma Watson, Rihanna and Michael Cera are in attendance at this star studded event, disaster strikes when the apocalypse occurs, brutally killing a plethora of our favourite Hollywood stars. The only known survivors are Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and unfortunately for the rest of them, Danny McBride, as they must figure out how to impress God and be taken up to heaven before meeting an untimely end in this desolate wasteland.
Although many of the performers in this title are talented and funny, This is the End is simply self-indulgent cinema like no other. In many respects, this isn't too dissimilar from a comedic viewpoint to the majority of these actors respective projects, as the likes of the affable Seth Rogen have formed a career for simply being Seth Rogen. His likeability and charisma is what people want to see and it's what he gives us. However that doesn't actually mean we want to see Seth Rogen playing Seth Rogen, y'know?
It is somewhat enjoyable to see some of these actors take on a separate persona to their own. Jonah Hill is worryingly nice, Franco absolutely adores Rogen, and Cera is a massive cocaine fiend. However the character that Baruchel is portraying is simply irritating and complains incessantly, which is a slight problem as we are supposed to be witnessing this superficial world through his eyes, as he can't bear the Hollywood scene, and yet we end up taking the oppositions side.
The biggest issue with This is the End, however, is the length. The rather contrived narrative is already asking a lot of a feature length film, so to exceed the 100 minute mark is just absurd and inexcusable. If anything this would work best as an elongated special on Saturday Night Live. We also proceed into the apocalypse story far too hastily. The most enjoyable moments within this title come in the opening stages when the party is in full swing, and we see a host of our favourite characters reuniting on screen, such as the Superbad trio, or the I, Love You Man pair. However as soon as we enter into the survival story, it becomes far too repetitive from that point onwards, as it's effectively the same joke stretched out for over an hour.
In fairness, you do find yourself laughing unashamedly on occasion, as a film that at times is completely nonsensical and at points, rather good fun. Given the nature of this film, with non-stop jokes flowing consistently from start to finish, it's inevitable the occasional gag will tickle you. Sadly it just isn't anywhere near enough.