Seth Rogan and friends manage to do what even Ivan Reitman couldn’t do himself: duplicate the comedic formula that made Ghostbusters so irresistible.
Flying into Los Angeles for a little rest and relaxation, Jay Baruchel is met at the airport by fellow Canadian Seth Rogan. As best friends growing apart, they spend the day hanging out before attending a party at James Franco’s house. Jay isn’t all that keen on getting to know Seth’s newer Hollywood friends like Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson, but Seth is hopeful they can all be buddies. Just as it appears that any hope of a reconciliation is lost, so is the planet as an unfathomable disaster strikes; honesty, loyalty, and comedy will be tested as the world comes to a horrifying and dangling end.
It’s the apocalypse; what’s an A-list of comedic actors to do now that the world has ended? With an outrageous high-end concept and top-notch special effects to pull it off, these funny guys survive from plot point to plot point doing the wrong things, thinking only of themselves, and watching everything collapse around them. The story is brilliantly weighted to provide the requisite levity and hope to motivate an unthinkable story while squeezing the maximum amount of situational comedy out of every frame. Even during the brief segments where things get completely silly, the film earns every one of those over-the-top moments, including an eye-rolling epilogue. It’s crass, it’s evil, and you’ll never look at Michael Cera the same way again.
Reportedly made for a low-budget $32 million and filmed in New Orleans, the location move from LA caused a few missing originally planned cameos and cast changes. The film was based on a short film called “Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse” that went viral on YouTube before being considered for a theatrical feature. IMDb even reports that the director made a game out of seeing how many actors he could get to take him aside to say “No, I can’t do this” – neither Seth Rogan nor James Franco ever refused. If this doesn’t suggest how far these guys went to make this film without spoiling anything, you’ll have to see it to believe it.
Both Danny McBride and Emma Watson contribute to the cast – to what extent you’ll have to see – but the characterization of “actors playing themselves” was actually a combination of real bits of truth and extreme fictionalization, more than a few way over the top. Viewers will also notice several classic film tributes worked into the plot, including riffs on reality shows and a number of digs on infamous horror tropes – mentioning them here, of course, would ruin them. Bottom line: see this film as soon as possible to avoid potential spoilers, but will viewers take comfort in the knowledge that Doctor Manhattan has nothing on the Prince of Lies? Heh.
(a three and a half skull recommendation out of four)