I'm not exactly sure what possessed Seth Rogen and his merry bunch of cohorts to make "This is the End," a rather bizarre comedy that really looks like a chance for these clowns to rake in dough while essentially not acting a great deal.
The group is at the very least not stretching themselves very far. The premise of this cookie apocalypse film is that all the actors are just playing themselves.
Seth Rogen and his buddy Jay Baruchel find themselves attending a bash thrown by James Franco. Of course, virtually every actor from the Judd Apatow tree is at Franco's house -- Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Craig Robinson, Danny Mcbride, the list goes on and on. So many actors are flying around Casa Franco that you might miss some if you're not watching closely.
Considering most of them don't make it far into this film, I guess it was just to make an appearance in this film, although I'm not certain it actually helps anyone's credentials. The party scene has some pretty clever moments, at least clever for the minds here. Michael Cera steals some scenes in short bits in the early going, but before long the end of the world hits in the form of a massive earthquake that swallows most of Franco's party, leaving Rogen, Franco, Baruchel, Hill, Robinson and McBride (whom nobody seemed to know was even at the party). The earthquake scenes actually aren't too bad for a film of this kind.
This leaves the fellows time to act out virtually every scenario you've seen in disaster film: finding other survivors, rationing food and water, the video diary deal -- no stone is unturned here. When funny, "This is the End" is has some razor sharp wit with insights into the actors and their Hollywood lifestyle; however, when the jokes fail they are almost painfully off target and in many cases way too long. Then again, that in many ways sums up why this was probably a good idea for a short film, but not necessarily a full-length feature.
Oh, wait, I forgot; that's how this uneven project got started in the first place. Rogen collaborator Evan Goldberg directed this in a 2007 short, "Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse." I haven't seen the short, but something tells me it worked a little better. While it's amusing to watch the likes of Franco and Rogen lampooning their image, after hour it gets a little old; and when it does the film doesn't really have much to fall back on, with exception of some surprise late cameos (one of which you cansee coming from miles away). While there are some very memorable scenes here, the film never really gets over the hump of looking like what Rogen and his pals would come up with under the influence of mind-altering drugs (which of course there are actually scenes here that delve into their creative process, including a very funny bit featuring Rogen and Franco coming with a sequel to "Pineapple Express").
I'm not exactly sure where this film could have gone once it starts to run out of steam. Another odd thing here is that while the actors are having fun at their own expense, they also seem to be just a little pompous about the very premise, that essentially seeing a film of these actors playing themselves is something audiences are dying to see. Of course, the large contingent of faithful fans of "Suberbad" and "Knocked Up" would clock in to see anything with Rogen and Hill -- just look at some the duds they've had that pulled in dollars. Still, it seems a little presumptuous think that people want to see what at times seems like Rogen and his pals playing with a camcorder.