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Directors: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Michael Cera
Plot: James Franco throws a celebrity party that Seth Rogen drags Jay Baruchel along to. Baruchel’s hesitance is well-founded, although even he didn’t predict the end of the world.

Seven years ago, Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen wrote and starred in a fake trailer called Jay and Seth Vs the Apocalypse. It featured the two of them bickering in an apartment, while the world collapsed around them. It was meant to be for a friend’s film class, a quick favour on their part. However, the short found its way to the right people and soon the two of them had a big enough budget to actually make a feature film from this small idea. As you can see from the trailer, the tone and premise has remained fixed for seven whole years, a rare thing in the production world. This is one of the best examples I can find for the comedic genius of this premise.

Aside from the entire apocalypse theme, the other reason to be drawn to this film is the fact that the actors are playing exaggerated versions of themselves. This can be a tricky line to play. With Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, their self-parodies always come across as an easy and lazy way to get jokes (The Internship), while Adam Sandler loves himself a little too much to really satirise himself (Funny People). Luckily here, the cast and crew are made up of close friends. Basically this is the Judd Apatow crowd (minus Apatow strangely enough), and they know each other so well, that not only can they play on each other’s bad habits, but they are the only people able to call them on it. Cue several critical references to Rogen’s failed ‘Green Hornet’ movie and Jonah Hill’s feminine nature.

July is a tough month for movies. Not only have we got people saving their pennies for ‘The Wolverine’ and ‘Pacific Rim’, but blockbuster hits ‘Man of Steel’, ‘World War Z’ and ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ are still floating around the cinema. In many regards, ‘This Is The End’ is the underdog film of the year, although it really is worth a watch. The majority of jokes hit home and each comedian is on top form, making your sides spilt to the point where some could argue it is technically assault. The events take place when Seth Rogen drags Jay Baruchel along to James Franco’s house party, against his will. James Franco’s house is laughably insane. For a good part of the film, no one even realises the world is ending, as Franco’s house is so fortified. There is also a sense that the characters are so high, the apocalypse might not even be happening. Is this all some massive trip?

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It is hard to comment on the actors, as they are playing themselves. This is good in ways, as you can get right past the setting up of characters and delve right into the gags. Craig Robinson is probably the break-away star here. He is so goddamn funny. The movie plays on the idea that the black guy is always the first to go in a horror movie. The other characters even try to encourage it. Robinson always worms his way out of death though, often winning some fantastic jokes in the process. In fact, the one actor who kind of lets the side down is Jay Baruchel. Being the lead, he isn’t allowed to really have an extreme role. The other actors have such strong characters that Baruchel ends up being no one’s favourite and kind of ends up being moderately forgettable, when you look back on the film.

Then there are of course the cameos. God, the cameos. Each is funnier than the last and they are used to the extreme. Some only grab five seconds of screen time, while others achieve lasting characters. I won’t spoil any here, but they will not disappoint. My sole problem with the film is the fact that this comedy is for a niche market. Most people will simply not get this film. It is best enjoyed surrounded by mates, as it pretty much is a stoner movie in itself. Those expecting a serious take, or even a higher form of satire, will be sorely disappointed and be scratching their heads, when James Franco epically takes on the cannibals. For those that love Apatow and Rogen films though, you will love this movie. Hint: it is better second time around. The jokes seem to work even better.

Final verdict: A fresh take on an exhausted apocalypse genre. Constant jokes, great performances. A must-see for anyone wanting a mindless laugh.

Four stars

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