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'This Is The End' review: "Inspired apocalyptic lunacy"

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Directors: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg; Screenwriters: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg; Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Rihanna; Running time: 107 mins; Certificate: 15


> This Is The End video interview

Coked up Michael Cera. In the bathroom. With the rusty trombone.

That scenario from the start of This Is The End sounds like it's been taken from an X-rated celebrity version of Cluedo, but it's one of many jawdroppingly funny and shocking moments in this apocalyptic, metatextual comedy from the team behind Superbad and Pineapple Express.

The premise must have looked like a horrific vanity project on paper. A group of Hollywood actors including Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson play extreme versions of themselves holed up in James Franco's Los Angeles house while the planet is ravaged by demonic forces outside. In order to survive, they need to find redemption for past misdemeanours and self-absorption.

Fortunately, inspired hilarity and self-deprecation transcends any surplus of narcissism courtesy of a winning run of filthy gags involving soiled porno mags, urination, exorcism, Nutella and (not) raping a certain Harry Potter star. Several pop culture figures like Rihanna pop up in cameo roles too, often subverting and poking fun at their public personas. Anything goes, as much like the aforementioned Michael Cera bathroom scenario, no holes are barred.

This Is The End, James Franco, Jonah Hill


Given its gag rather than plot heavy nature and an unnecessarily lengthy running time, there are occasions when the movie threatens to run out of steam. But the disarming and amiable rapport between the stars and some impressive FX work helps to sustain the attention throughout any lulls. Quite wisely, amidst the mayhem the audience is also given a figure to identify with in the form of Jay Baruchel - very much the straight man and voice of sanity amidst the mania.

At its molten core, This Is The End is a rather heartwarming film about friendship. The real-life bromances between the main cast have been superbly translated to the big screen and the fun they had while making the movie is contagious. A playful dose of humility also emerges through moments like James Franco being mocked over his stint as the Green Goblin or Jonah Hill making a prayer to God and introducing himself as "Jonah from Moneyball".

Other knockout self-referential interludes include an attempt to film a sequel to Pineapple Express in a living room and James Franco digging out his camcorder from 127 Hours to document some more gruesome endeavours.

A bonkers idea executed with supreme confidence, This Is The End unleashes a bombardment of crowdpleasing hysteria and could be this summer's biggest surprise.

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