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Flirting During Disaster

This Is the End (2013)

Suzanne Hanover/
Columbia Pictures

When two Jewish filmmakers decide to make a comedy based on the biblical Judgment Day, questions about their motives naturally arise. After all, this isn’t nearly as benign as Barbra Streisand recording a couple of Christmas albums. While comedy in any form has often been a taboo-slinging free-for-all, what Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are attempting with “This Is the End” could easily be perceived as sacrilegious. On the flip side, they could be accused of heresy if they were outright singing the Christian gospel.

Mr. Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and numerous other recognizable faces — all playing themselves — are partying at Mr. Franco’s cushy Los Angeles pad as the apocalypse strikes. Most meet their untimely end within the first half hour, among them an especially douche-y Michael Cera — our first celebrity casualty — who gets skewered by a lamppost. The half-dozen survivors hole up in Mr. Franco’s home, rationing the remaining food and water, bromancing one another in the most platonic way imaginable, all while making a sequel to “Pineapple Express” using the prop camcorder from “127 Hours” — seriously.

Messrs. Rogen and Goldberg, who jointly wrote and directed, did adhere to biblical staples by ultimately having the good guys ascend to heaven and consigning the evil ones to giant sinkholes flowing with lava. Certainly, “This Is the End” does not crack jokes at the expense of Christianity. It does, however, consider both kicking a severed head around like a football and the prospect of raping Emma Watson to be hilarious. It’s true that if you’ve seen one comedy from this ragtag crew of actors, you’ve seen them all. The only revelation here is that Messrs. Rogen, Hill and McBride aren’t three variations of the same person. But given that the most rousing bits in its entire duration are cameo appearances by Channing Tatum and the Backstreet Boys, the film is particularly inside baseball even by this crew’s standards.


Opens on June 12 in the United States and on June 28 in Britain.

Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; director of photography, Brandon Trost; edited by Zene Baker; music by Henry Jackman; production design by Chris Spellman; costumes by Danny Glicker; produced by Mr. Rogen, Mr. Goldberg and James Weaver; released by Columbia Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. This film is rated R by M.P.A.A. and 15 by B.B.F.C.

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


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