James Franco, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson try to survive the apocalypse in 'This Is The End.' (Suzanne Hanover / Columbia Pictures-Sony)
It’s tough to imagine a bunch of guys less prepared for the end times than stoner pals Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, James Franco and Jay Baruchel.
And the stoner pals prove it — over and over again — to hilarious effect in the raucous, raunchy “This is the End,” which stakes an early claim to the title of heavyweight slacker comedy of summer ’13.
The boys poke fun at their own images, playing themselves (sort of) at a big party at Franco’s posh Hollywood mansion, attended by a slew of familiar faces also playing themselves (sort of).
Some, like Paul Rudd, Kevin Hart, Jason Segel, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Rihanna, come and go in a blink.
Others get juicier bits, such as Channing Tatum, whose cameo can’t be described in a family newspaper, and Michael Cera, torching his geeky milquetoast image to portray himself as a foul-mouthed, coke-snorting perv.
Just as the party swings into gear, the Hollywood hills explode in flames and a giant sinkhole that seems to lead straight to the bowels of hell — actually, it does — opens up on the front lawn.
The party crowd scatters as Rogen, Hill, Baruchel, Robinson and Franco barricade themselves inside to try and survive what they realize is a true apocalypse — the biblical kind, with ravenous demons roaming the land — while also trying to avoid annoying each other to death.
The gags fly thick and heavy as the craziness rises in a steady upward arc, and that’s even before Danny McBride shows up to pour some of his unique weirdness over the proceedings.
There are too many choice bits to recount, but a sampling includes a riotous turn by an ax-swinging Emma Watson (which ends with McBride marveling: “Hermione just stole all our stuff”); Hill being molested by a demon and ending up possessed, leading to a hysterical exorcism; and Franco and McBride staging one of the filthiest shouting matches in film history after the latter defiles one of the former’s favorite porno mags.
It all leads to a wacky finale that offers a heaven to balance the hell. Of course, it’s an appropriately warped vision of heaven … one in which aging boy bands appear to rule.
Clearly, this flick is not for everyone. But at this point, this crew is not an unknown quantity. If you’re a fan of “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” you’ll bust a gut at “This is the End.”■
Rated R for wall-to-wall profanity, comic violence and drug use.