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Article by Teddy Durgin

There's No End to the Laughs in 'This Is the End'

There's an old saying in wartime: "There are no atheists in foxholes." Well, judging from "This Is the End," there are no atheists at Hollywood parties thrown by James Franco when the apocalypse hits! The hook of this film is just terrific. Franco has just finished his dream home in the Hollywood Hills and has invited over half of Young Hollywood. Attending the party are Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Rihanna, Emma Watson, and many more. They do what most of us commoners think they would do at such swank affairs. They get drunk, get high, and brainstorm bad sequel ideas to the films that put them on the map. Then Rogen and Baruchel go briefly to a nearby convenience store for cigarettes and snacks and - BAM! - the ground starts to tremor, telephone poles come down, the night sky opens up and some people are sucked up into the heavens. Some ... but not all. Seth and Jay are left alive to sprint back to Franco's house and warn their fellow actors. But everyone there is so self-absorbed. They heard and felt nothing. Nothing until - BAM! From there, the film becomes not only a very funny comedy about personalities under pressure, it also becomes a legitimately intense, end-of-the-world thriller that is surprisingly well thought-out. This could have been a very simple, house-bound screenplay in which the surviving Hollywood stars hole themselves up in the Franco estate and wait out the end of days, ribbing each other and reveling in insider Tinseltown humor. But I have to give co-screenwriters/co-directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg credit. They don't assign some jive natural catastrophe to their apocalyptic scenario a la "The Core" or "2012." They pretty much embrace the Biblical/Book of Revelation scenario of Hell on Earth and run with it! So amid all of the jokes about body fluids, these characters are forced to confront their place in the cosmos and wonder why that hole into Hades outside of Franco's mansion is getting bigger and bigger and why they haven't been sucked up to Heaven by the beams of light seen earlier in the film. There are smart choices all around here. I like that the screenwriters made Baruchel, who hasn't achieved the fame of Rogen, Franco or Hill, the ordinary center of their film. He's the guy who didn't want to attend Franco's party, who doesn't like the Hollywood scene and tries to get out of town as much as he can when he is not working or auditioning. And just when things start to feel a little stale and even bleak, Danny McBride is inserted into the film as a party crasher who's irked he wasn't invited and then takes great glee in dressing down all of the survivors with one great burn after another. Gross? Oh yes. Lewd and profane? Uh huh. But darn funny. It's an added bonus that the film also goes for a deeper meaning AND is an effective horror thriller. My only regret? That a film like "This Is the End" didn't come out back when I was the age of Young Hollywood. Could you imagine the Brat Packers in this kind of flick along with all of the other John Hughes' refugees?! Oh to have seen Emilio Estevez or Molly Ringwald impaled by a city street light and then flipped into the liquid hot magma of the planet's exposed core!

"This Is the End" is rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use, and some violence.


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