The end of a world has been avoided many times; the rapture in 2011 and the Mayan’s prediction in 2012 are two recent examples. Though we have yet to see the prediction that the world would end while James Franco was having a piss up, may be wrong there. Well that is exactly what happens in this self-referential comedy that is very uneven but when it hits, it hits. Everyone here plays themselves (makes our job easier!) and it is the self-depreciating moments of this comedy that make it worth watching.
The plot is different and very fun going from apocalypse film to disaster movie to stoner comedy to a zombie-like survival story at a quick fire rate. The film starts nicely and builds to a Cloverfield-like all hell breaks loose scene (with purposely mega scoring by Henry Jackman, whose music is fantastic overall). The fun is in constant order and the idea that hell breaks loose from beneath Hollywood is rather appropriate. As is the fact that the actors are left on Earth as other seem to be saved. The biblical context of the film is admittedly a bit of a let down and the ending is a bit of a bust in all honesty, though some may appreciate the final singsong cameo.
The plot is based on the short film Jay and Seth Versus The Apocalypse by Jason Stone and has been done some justice with star power. The string of cameos (which I won’t reveal too much of) is mostly pleasing, especially a certain someone appearing as a sex slave and Emma Watson’s role. That said some might never look at Michael Cera the same way again! The problem with the film is really some of the script, while hitting the mark more than missing it; the film still has certain gags that stretch way too long and a few sections where it thinks it is funnier than it is. Also the foray into more fantastical elements feels a bit like too many aspects thrown into the barrel, it isn’t always sublime but it is generally amusing.
It really will come down to what kind of comedy you are after; the better stuff is the inward-looking gags about these friends’ films, acting and Hollywood in general. The script lies somewhere in between Your Highness and Pineapple Express (thankfully closer to the latter). Though things can always fall back on its charming cast, especially Franco who is absolutely superb here and sends himself up marvellously. Jay Baruchel is also a good lead and showcases himself well with Seth Rogen. Danny McBride does what his fans expect and Craig Robinson is very funny as well. Jonah Hill is somewhat of an unsung treasure in the film (one word Demon, we have already said too much). Basically the elements of films like Tropic Thunder, Dogma, Your Highness, Pineapple Express, Superbad and Hot Tub Time Machine run through the film’s veins, it is just a shame it seems to be all at once. It is also a shame that too many bits stop it from being the next level up. That said for the right fanbase, it is hard to imagine many feeling overly short-changed.