A bunch of Hollywood stars riding out the Apocalypse is the premise of the frequently funny, but slightly disappointing This Is The End the co-directorial debut of co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg whose previous works include Superbad (cool), Pineapple Express (OK) and The Green Hornet (uh-oh).
Originally a four-minute short called Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse, This Is The End stars Rogen and Jay Baruchel (She's Out of My League, Undeclared) as old Canadian friends getting together after a year apart. Rogen is in L.A. making movies and Jay stays in Canada because he doesn't like the Hollywood scene and Seth's new friends including Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and James Franco. After smoking pot and playing videogames, Rogen drags a reluctant Baruchel to Franco's house-warming party where a ton more stars make cameos as outlandish caricatures of themselves, especially Michael Cera as a coked-out lunatic.
As promised by the trailer, the Apocalypse occurs and the surviving party members hunker down in Franco's place. What does it all mean? How long will the food last, especially with Danny McBride with them? Is this really the end and, if so, how do these selfish Hollywood celebs redeem themselves and get to Heaven? Of course, hijinks ensue.
While my girlfriend and friend absolutely loved it, I was left a little chilly by This Is The End. It's not that it's not funny - it's very funny when it clicks - it's just that in trying to root the story in a human exploration of friendship, it kept the pace a bit slower than it should've. A perfect comparison is last year's Ted (the obscene teddy bear movie) which managed to be warm AND throw a zillion jokes at you non-stop.
Comedy is naturally subjective, so even though I laughed more at The Heat than This Is The End, don't take this as a lukewarm endorsement. It's just that I could've stood for some more random funny.
Score: 7/10. Rent it and hope there's an hour of alternate takes.