This week, This Is the End picks up the looming bro-pocalypse barreling toward the present and drops it in James Franco's backyard, creating a sinkhole large enough to swallow parts of Hollywood and the careers it props up.
Jay Baruchel is crashing with Seth Rogen for a few nights during a stint in Los Angeles. After an obligatory bro greeting and subsequent afternoon squandered smoking themselves into comas and playing video games until their thumbs (and eyes) bleed, the pair heads over to James Franco's new mansion for a lavish Hollywood blow out. Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling and pretty much everyone who's anyone is there, partaking in the abuse of various self-prescribed medications.
When Baruchel gets pissed and tries to bail and go back to Rogen's, the biblical apocalypse begins. The Hollywood Hills are on fire and the earth opens up and swallows a slew of Franco's famous friends. Thus, Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Hill, Robinson and McBride are left to survive the remainder of the apocalypse together in the mansion, each playing a caricature of their Hollywood personas.
James Franco's the uppity A-lister who collects props from his own movies and is creepily obsessed with impressing Seth Rogen. Jonah Hill is overly nice to the point that you can't tell whether or not he's beeing an a**hole. Danny McBride is basically just playing his character from Eastbound and Down. Baruchel's a little awkward and feels like he doesn't fit in with the rest of the crew.
The rest of the film follows the group of guys as they struggle to survive the elements without succumbing to damnation or killing each other in the process. It's full of everything Millennials love in their comedies: heinous language, friends making fun of each other, surprise cameos, awesome pop songs from the '90s, instances of Hollywood making fun of itself, and all of their favorite comedy stars playing off each other in an ad lib-style competition to see who can be the foulest/funniest (as if there's a real distinction).
It's the perfect summer comedy for people who know all the words to LFO's "Summer Girls" and could have earned a minor in Watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall Hungover While Shoveling Doritos Into Your Face, had their universities offered it as a specialization.
And along with This Is The End's obligatory jokes about ejaculate and drinking your own urine comes an adept analysis of Millennial culture and an enlightened interpretation of modern male group dynamics. For an entire generation, early adolescence is just a blur of group sleepovers fueled by Mortal Kombat, Mountain Dew, Adam Sandler movies, and Internet porn. The main act of This Is the End is, essentially, the same, except the guys have swapped the Mountain Dew for booze and the power is out, so they've got to resort to an old-fashioned nudie mag for the adult entertainment.
Thanks to the video camera from 127 Hours that Franco has as a keepsake, the guys in the movie are able to film themselves surviving the apocalypse to show the true story of six friends (sorta) forced to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start being real.
They use sarcasm and false bravado to mask their own insecurities and concerns. They're as jealous, petty, defensive, and irritable as a gaggle of hormonal tweens. At a sixth grade sleepover, kids are worried about not fitting in and letting their parents down and accidentally saying something stupid if they ever actually spoke to a real girl. In This Is the End, the guys are afraid of eternal damnation by way of a seven-headed demon brought about by the biblical apocalypse. So, basically the same thing.
For all of the juvenile parallels between This Is The End and that time everyone got all hopped up on Mountain Dew at Bobby's 12th birthday party and played Frank Thomas' Big Hurt Baseball until I finally passed out at 5:30 a.m. and someone put an ice cube in my ear, the film also includes a very real depiction of what it's like to transition from adolescence to adulthood. It demonstrates that, in certain situations and with a particular group dynamic, it people to revert to old versions of themselves very easily. The social struggle within the group is palpable and the fallout of being in such close quarters with such close friends resonates for anyone who's ever vacationed with friends. But, mostly, This Is the End is just wildly inappropriate and hilarious.
On a scale of Strange Wilderness to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, This Is the End is an 8.5. Go for the d*** jokes, stay for the faux-ironic '90s nostalgia and male gaze commentary.