This Is The End: For an all-star cast, high times as the end draws nigh

by Mark Burger

Actor Seth Rogen and his screenwriting partner Evan Goldberg, who scored together with Superbad (2007) and Pineapple Express (2008), have now taken the plunge into co-directing This is the End (**½), a knockabout farce about the end of the world based on Jason Stone’s comedy short Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse.

Jay (Baruchel) and Seth (Rogen) return for the feature version, playing variations of themselves, as do James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Emma Watson and UNCSA’s own Danny McBride. They’ve all convened for a night of drunken debauchery at Franco’s Hollywood home when the apocalypse hits. Some lucky souls are immediately whisked heavenward (shades of the Rapture) while those left behind must contend with Hell on Earth, replete with raging infernos and voracious demons. If this is humanity’s last hope, then we’re all in trouble.

Everybody argues while deciding what to do and how to survive. There are inside digs at show-biz and inside digs at the actors’ own careers, as well as gags involving urination, defecation, copulation, ejaculation, regurgitation and their various sexual proclivities — imagined or otherwise. Some of the humor is quite inspired (a Rosemary’s Baby reference is letter-perfect) and much of it is excessive, but This is the End does stay very true to the sophomoric sensibilities that these actors have scored with in previous films. The principal pleasure is in watching the likable cast misbehave, which they do — constantly.

Adding to the fun are appearances (as “themselves,” of course) by Jason Segel, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd, Rhianna, Channing Tatum, Mindy Kaling and a neverfunnier Michael Cera. The film, however, has difficulty coming up with a satisfactory conclusion. The third act sags precipitously, despite some big-buck special effects and the unflagging energy of its cast members. There are some hearty laughs along the way, but the end can’t come quickly enough. LOG ONTO — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”