What better place for the Apocalypse to take place than Los Angeles? In Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's (who have collaborated on such films as Superbad and Pineapple Express) This Is the End, the end of the world has never felt so real--or comical. With the usual members of the Judd Apatow fraternity in place, the premise for the story begins with Jay Baruchel visiting L.A. to spend time with his old pal Seth Rogen. While waiting at the airport for Jay to arrive, Seth is hounded by paparazzi and asked when he's ever going to play a character other than himself. This self-deprecating, self-referential humor is only the beginning of what's to come.
The friendship between Jay and Seth has been steadily waning since Seth began gaining more fame and popularity--a fact he tries to make up for by providing Jay with a shit ton of weed during his weekend stay. Their time together appears pleasant and enjoyable until Seth suggests going to a party at James Franco's house. This suggestion makes Jay feel extremely uneasy as he tries to back out of it and tell Seth that he came to L.A. specifically to hang out with him. Seth then assures Jay that he won't leave him alone at the party for even a second. Hesitantly, Jay agrees to attend. At the party, guests like Rihanna, Emma Watson, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and Aziz Ansari revel in the decadence of drugs, singing and dancing--leaving Jay to feel extremely awkward and out of place.
Jay uses the excuse of needing more cigarettes to get Seth to leave with him to go to the convenience store. By the time they get there, Seth has smoked enough weed to fortify all the denizens of Venice Beach. Perhaps this is why he isn’t as receptive to the sight of a number of people getting sucked up by blue spotlights and ascending into the sky. Convinced whatever weird shit just happened is merely an earthquake, Seth leads Jay in a run back to Franco’s house for shelter. When Jay proceeds to tell everyone what happened, Seth plays it off as though Jay is acting crazy—digging the final stab into the back of a friendship that is already on life support. Jonah Hill, on the other hand, is more than eager to listen to what Jay has to say—showcasing a new level of sycophantic behavior with every scene he’s in.
As the so-called “earthquake” escalates, everyone is prompted to flee Franco’s house in fear of losing their lives. Once outside, a giant sinkhole opens up to trap most of the party guests within it—but not before an amazing scene involving Michael Cera's impalement. One by one, everyone except Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are picked off. Not yet fully aware of what is happening, the five take stock of the supplies they have on hand with the assumption that they will soon be rescued. However, as it starts to become more apparent that some dark and sinister shit is afoot, Jay is the first one to point out that the prophecy of the Book of Revelation is finally taking place.
The unexpected presence of Danny McBride, who showed up to the party uninvited the night before, makes matters worse after he uses a large portion of the supplies to make the others breakfast. The animosity toward McBride intensifies as the days wear on and his selfish nature becomes more evident. And this is just one of many regards in which This Is the End is a surprisingly principled story—what with the Bible as the backbone of its premise. As the film progresses to its second act, it becomes clearer that the message of This Is the End isn’t just one of bromance, but also one of acting ethically in an unethical world—in spite of the celebrity-specific temptations that abound.
The acknowledgement of the Apocalypse comes too late for Jonah Hill, who asks God to kill off Jay so that Seth can finally be free of his weird Canadian life. Subsequently, an incubus both fucks and possesses Jonah in one of the most simultaneously creepy and hilarious moments recently rendered on film. A title card with “The Exorcism of Jonah Hill” soon follows as Jay uses his memory of The Exorcist to attempt casting out the demon. When this fails and the house ends up being set ablaze from one of the candles, the only remaining four in the group (McBride has already been kicked out)—Rogen, Baruchel, Robinson and Franco—try to escape in Franco’s Prius—but not before being confronted by a giant demon. Realizing that the only way to gain entry into heaven is to exhibit some form of selflessness, Craig volunteers to distract it so that the other three can get away. Just as Craig is about to be swallowed by the demon, the magical blue light washes over him and takes him up into the sky.
The road to redemption is a bit more arduous for Franco, Baruchel and Rogen as they try to gain quick entrance by offering each other a slew of compliments. The buildup to the laughably emotional denouement makes the, at times, drawn out script worth the wait. Suffice it to say, any ending that involves the Backstreet Boys deserves instant recognition in the categories of boldness and unexpectedness.