Film review: This is the End

Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, James Franco and Craig Robinson face fear in Seth Rogan’s Hollywood house party meets apocalypse comedy This is the End. SONY PICTURES. Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, James Franco and Craig Robinson face fear in Seth Rogan’s Hollywood house party meets apocalypse comedy This is the End. SONY PICTURES.
This is the End is so devoid of good ideas, smarts or laughs that it’s hard to understand just what its purpose is. I can only conclude it’s to get the six leads together who appear on the poster—James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson—and let them riff. And, boy, do they riff.
For example, Franco and McBride have a lengthy argument about whether it’s appropriate to masturbate and then cum all over the one piece of porn—an old issue of Penthouse—that exists in the house the six share. McBride thinks it’s fine. Franco thinks it’s decidedly not fine. This argument goes on for what seems like forever, but is probably about 60 seconds, and—this is a guess—they each use the word “cum” approximately 20 times.
That would all be great—who doesn’t like a good ejaculation joke?—if the conversation were funny. But it isn’t. Franco and McBride try really, really hard, but the joke falls flaccid.
Another dumb gag: The guys mount a home-movie version of Pineapple Express 2 to stave off boredom. Unfortunately, all of This is the End feels like a home movie, only with better lighting (but not much better).
The plot—or, let’s be honest: “plot”—is that the world is ending, literally. All the friends are at Franco’s new state-of-the-art fortress-like home for a party, and they hunker down after the rest of the party guests flee in terror when Los Angeles goes kaboom.

The cast members play versions of themselves we’re familiar with. Rogen is Rogen-ish. McBride, who’s usually funny in asshole mode, seems bored. Franco takes the whole thing pretty seriously. Robinson is charming as always, and Hill plays a syrupy sweet version of himself. He’s the only lead who seems to be playing against type.
The secret weapon is Baruchel, who once again is the best thing about the production he’s in (see also: She’s Out of My League,CosmopolisThe Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Knocked Up). He manages to keep the movie grounded with some humanity while the rest of the cast is making dick jokes.
He plays to type, too, as the only person in the movie not to have gone Hollywood—Baruchel is proudly Canadian, in the movie and in life—and maybe that’s why he’s the soul of the picture. Who can really say? The whole point of This is the End is to make penis yuks, so the sweetness of one character gets lost in the metaphorical semen of the other five.
There is one inspired casting choice. Emma Watson pops up playing a version of herself who doesn’t take any shit. That she does it without winking at the audience is a pleasant surprise. If only co-helmsmen Rogen and Goldberg directed the rest of the cast that way. At the same time, any movie in which Mindy Kaling and Michael Cera die horribly in the first 15 minutes can’t be all bad. Can it?
This is the End/R, 107 minutes/Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX
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Movie houses:
Carmike Cinema 6
973-4294
Regal Downtown Mall
Cinema 6
979-7669
Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX
244-3213
Vinegar Hill Theatre
977-4911

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