THIS IS THE END written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, with Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and James Franco. A Sony Pictures release. 107 minutes. Now playing. For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNN
On an ordinary night in Hollywood, Seth Rogen drags his visiting pal Jay Baruchel to a party at James Franco's place. Thing is, it's also the night the apocalypse hits, leaving Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride holed up in Franco's increasingly unstable home trying to figure out what to do next.
This Is The End's premise doesn't allow much wiggle room - at least in the first hour - so it's doubly impressive how thoroughly engaging and consistently hilarious it is.
Rogen and long-time collaborator Evan Goldberg have written and directed an end-of-the-world comedy that plays like a 21st century Ghostbusters, with our entirely unprepared heroes bumbling their way through the end of days by wisecracking, screaming and repeatedly running away from peril.
The movie feels improvised, but it's quite carefully structured. And the cast members delight in sending themselves up - particularly Hill and Franco, whose subtle rivalry just gets funnier as the movie goes along.
As for the ending, I guarantee you won't see it coming.