titeDirected by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson
Rated R

The Plot: When the apocalypse comes down, society will quickly reassign how valuable certain of its members are. People who have historically been at the lower, less-appreciated levels – laborers, craftsmen, and others who actually make our world work — will find themselves far elevated in social situations over, say, writers, artists, models or others who will find their occupations suddenly a luxury no one can afford.

And about the last place you’d want to be, one could argue, is with a bunch of actors, especially those used to being pampered. They seem to be the type to stab you in the back to eat that last Milky Way.

(The one possible exception is Harrison Ford. He was a working carpenter before he started his acting career, he can fly planes and helicopters and has actually saved lives doing so, and the psychological boost of having both Han Solo AND Indiana Jones in your group would be invaluable.)This Is The End

The stars of This Is The End would be, indeed, the worst End of the World companions. This film is the story of Seth Rogan’s clique facing the end of the world. That clique includes James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel, all playing themselves in the film (or an exaggerated version of themselves – how exaggerated is left to the viewer).

The movie opens with Baruchel visiting Rogan in Los Angeles to reconnect with his more successful friend (although Baruchel has had plenty of success, he’s probably the least known of the group), and Rogan immediately asking if he wants to go to a housewarming party at James Franco’s new place. He doesn’t, because he doesn’t like any of Seth’s “L.A.” friends, but tries to be a good sport about it. The party goes as terribly for him as he expected it to, and goes to pick up cigarettes at the local grocery. It’s at this point that blue lights suck several people up into the sky, and fire and brimstone start to rain down.

Back at the party, nothing seems to have happened. No one believes Jay (no one at the party was raptured, of course), until a giant sinkhole opens in the front yard, swallowing most of the guests into a fiery pit. Demons and damnation follow, and it becomes clear what has happened, although it’s up for debate as to how to survive it.

The film, itself a remake of a short comedy Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse, is goofy, gory and far funnier than you think a movie about the End Times would be. Half the fun of the film is getting the references (not just of the films these actors have been in, but of other Satanic horror fare, including The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby). One of the reasons the film works is that no one seems to be afraid of casting themselves in the worst light possible (Franco and McBride especially) and that, while you can’t buy Seth Rogan as as an action hero (Hello? Green Hornet?), you can buy him and his friends running for their lives.

Thoughts on This Is the End:

• From the look of things, it appears that about 43 people were raptured in the Greater Los Angeles area.

• Not to get all religious or anything, but it IS a question raised by the film: If this is, indeed, the Biblical End of Days™ and not just a generic apocalypse, then I’m pretty sure that “just being a better person” isn’t the yardstick that gets you into Heaven.

• Since the action takes place in Franco’s home, some of the props from Flyboys, 127 Hours and Spider-Man 3 come into play, all of which were nice touches.

• If you could get an oscar for playing a coked-out, horrible version of yourself, Michael Cera would be a lock. He’s not in the film for very long (not really a spoiler), but he and Emma Watson pretty much steal the show when they’re on screen.

• Man, it’s gonna be hard to take James Franco seriously in any serious film again.

• Turns out that being a dick as you’re being raptured is enough to cancel your trip. You’ve been warned.