'This Is the End': The Rapture turns irreverent

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceJune 11, 2013 

Film Review This Is The End

This film publicity image released by Columbia Pictures shows, from left, James Franco, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson in a scene from "This Is The End." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Suzanne Hanover)

SUZANNE HANOVER — AP

  • MOVIE REVIEW

    'This Is the End'

    ★★★★☆

    R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence. Columbia Pictures. 1:47.

The lads of Hollywood's "Pot Pack" get together for a riotous riff on the Rapture in This Is the End, an often hilarious and generally irreverent comedy about the biblical apocalypse as seen through the windows of a movie star's mansion.

Seth Rogen & Co. cooked up this all-star romp, a much funnier, less preachy and just as credulous take on New Testament accounts of The End than the equally blasphemous Rapture Palooza.

Inventing versions of their real selves to play, This Is the End begins with Rogen's old pal Jay Baruchel visiting him in Los Angeles, getting baked and complaining about Rogen's running mates — James Franco, Jonah Hill and their ilk. Baruchel (She's Out of My League) is then dragged to a rowdy party at Franco's Architectural Digest showplace of a home, where Franco can't remember his name. Hill fawns all over him, unconvincingly trying to persuade Baruchel that they shouldn't be enemies. Craig Robinson (Peeples, The Office) entertains one and all by leading the mob in a few choruses of a song called Take Yo' Panties Off.

The first thing that works here is this madcap party, where Jason Segel rips his undemanding, formulaic TV comedy (How I Met Your Mother) to Kevin Hart. Emma Watson endures the ogling of the lads, and Rhianna ups her cool quotient by slapping Michael Cera, who consumes mass quantities of coke and sex and generally punctures his fey nice-boy image. The party is so funny it could be its own movie.

And then The End begins.

Baruchel is the surrogate for the audience, the one who sees the beams of light pulling the righteous up into heaven. Since nobody at the party was raptured, nobody believes him. When the Earth quakes, the fires begin and doom rains down — "Tsunami? Zombie invasion?" — most partygoers are quickly consumed. The five leads, in various states of outrageous denial, are left to fend for themselves.

Baruchel reads the Bible to them and points out the signs and the pictures of Satan.

"I know that dude. He's from Where the Wild Things Are!"

And then Danny McBride shows up. Everybody in this movie sells the concept and works up a fine lather over their peril and their petty personality conflicts. But as he did in Pineapple Express, McBride takes things to a new level. His redneck rage, contempt for the "sell-outs" and career stumbles and the very profession they all share blasts from his lips — every line a killer, no line quotable in polite company. When he's in it, This Is the End is the living end of rapture spoofs. When he leaves, the energy plunges.

Rogen, who co-wrote and directed this, lets the fun go on too long. But the effects are grand and often R-rated, and for a movie as over the R-rating line as this one often is (Rogen and co-director Evan Goldberg have said they expected an NC-17 rating), there's a surprisingly sweet message about the road to redemption.

So if you see only one End Times movie this summer, make it the Pot Pack's installment. This Is the End is the going-away party of apocalypse movies.


MOVIE REVIEW

'This Is the End'

★★★★☆

R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence. Columbia Pictures. 1:47.

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