I don't want to freak you out, but I think Seth Rogen's new comedy of dickish manners about the Apocalypse may be one of the Great American Stoner Epics. I'm talking Harold and Kumar level, OK? Maybe even Up in Smoke level. This is the real shit, man.
It probably helps that the entire movie feels like something Rogen, co-writer Evan Goldberg, and their friends came up with while they were stoned and playing videogames. The premise is that Rogen/Goldberg regulars Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride are all at a party at Franco's house when the Apocalypse happens. They are all playing themselves, or at least exaggerated versions of themselves. Danny is a psychotic proto-cannibal, Jay is a hipster who hates Seth's new LA pals, Jonah is preternaturally nice-but-evil, and Franco is a new-agey nutbag who loves Seth a little too much. Plus Michael Cera makes an appearance as a coke-fueled sex fiend, and Emma Watson turns out to be a ninja with an axe when the flames start rising from the Hollywood Hills.
Just based on this description, you can probably guess that this is a movie packed with improv bits. And based on who is doing the improv, you can expect a LOT of dick jokes, butt jokes, jizz jokes, drug jokes, and more dick jokes. It just so happens that I am a stoner who loves dick jokes more than anything in the world, so please forgive my rather self-serving enthusiasm for the entire endeavor. My point is, these are good dick jokes — veritable Ron Jeremies of the genre.
Plus, there is a great meta-within-meta moment where the guys get so bored waiting for help to arrive that they do all the drugs in the house and film the long-awaited sequel to Pineapple Express. I can't even tell you. Just see it.
Probably the funniest running gag in this flick is the way everybody responds to the flames, sinkholes, and giant demons roving the city of LA. The last thing anybody expects is the Biblical apocalypse. Emma thinks it's the zombie invasion, while most of our heroes think it's just a really bad earthquake combined with a bunch of wildfires. But when demons (with giant dicks, of course) start roving the streets, even Seth is forced to accept that maybe there is a God. "Wow, I mean who saw that coming?" he says at one point, shaking his head. "There's a God? And an Apocalypse? How weird is that?"
Once the friends realize that the Biblical end is nigh, they have to cope with survival — and they quickly realize that an extra bottle of water isn't going to cut it. They are going to have to do something that earns them a place in one of those light saber-esque beams of light that are sucking people up into Heaven all over the city.
Of course, there's always the other way too — because you know that some of these dudes are pretty down with Satan. And Satan's minions want to get down with them too, if you know what I mean. And this leads me to one of the most interesting aspects of this film from a "what makes good comedy" perspective. Because a lot of jokes in this movie hinge on the guys being afraid that the Apocalypse means geeky actors like them are going to get raped. Given that rape jokes in comedy have sparked some pretty intense debates of late, I will be curious to see how well these routines will go over with a mainstream audience. I would argue that they aren't sexist jokes, but they are still about rape — so consider this either a trigger warning, or an invitation to some cultural analysis of how comedy's approach to the topic is changing.
But back to safer topics: dicks and Hell. Though This Is The End does have some bits that go on for too long, overall it's a fun, dorktastic ride with the same touching "friendship is magic" message of previous Rogen/Goldberg movies like Superbad. And the ending is not only unexpected, but is pretty much the most awesome thing ever.
My recommendation? If this is the kind of comedy you like, you need to smoke or vaporize some big, sticky buds and spend the evening going to Hell with a bunch of hilarious dumbasses in the silliest movie about the Apocalypse that's ever been made.