There's every reason in the world to hate "This Is the End," which makes an unapologetic assault on everything from religious beliefs to sexuality with humor that's pitch black in tone. And it takes gross-out material so far beyond conventional social mores that it makes "The Hangover" look like a Nickelodeon movie.
Those are also the very reasons to love this movie.
"This Is the End" is so absurd in its humor and the way it attacks touchy subjects that it obliterates any social guidelines. It lewdly kicks what's acceptable right in the political correctness.
In a case of art disassociating itself with life, Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel play comic versions of themselves. These best buds end up at a party being thrown at James Franco's house in the Hollywood Hills. The guest list includes Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Krumholtz and assorted other familiar faces playing themselves.
The party guests don't notice when the Rapture occurs — a blistering commentary on celebrity — and continue to party until most of them get killed. Rogen, Baruchel, Hill, Robinson, Franco and McBride are the only survivors. They take refuge in Franco's home, passing the time doing everything from shooting a swede version of "Pineapple Express 2" to fighting over the last bits of water and food. Along the way they deal with the traditional trappings that come with an apocalyptic event.
What makes this movie work is the take-no-prisoners script by Rogen and Goldberg. No one's career or public persona is safe from comic attack. Rogen even talks about his past film failures, particularly the easy target, "The Green Hornet." You will never be able to think of Watson or Cera the same way after what he's put them through in the film. And, there's a cameo (if you can have a cameo in a movie where everyone's playing themselves) that is one of the greatest ever. You'll know it when you see it.
It sounds weird, but while most of the humor is juvenile and crude it's handled in a smart way. This isn't a case of just saying or doing naughty things to get attention. Each trip down the dark comedy road leads to an intelligent payoff. That's because the actors are so committed to the preposterous storyline that it makes even the most sophomoric or traditionally objectionable moments all the more funny.
Films like "This Is the End" boldly ask to be seen for the beyond-the-limits humor they embrace. If you are easily offended, this isn't the movie for you. In fact, even those who aren't easily offended should be ready to have their comedy limits tested.
It's worth it.
"This Is the End," rated R for language, violence, sexual material, drug use, graphic images. Stars Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, Emma Watson. Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. Grade: A-.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.