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This Is the End’ just doesn’t work as a feature-length film

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James Franco, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson face annihilation.

Two and a half stars

This Is The End. Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco. Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Rated R. Now playing.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg spent six years working to get This Is the End made. It’s based on the unreleased 2007 short film Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse, and it’s obviously a passion project for the writing duo, who also make their directorial debut. But passion only carries things so far, and This Is the End comes off like, well, a short film stretched unnecessarily to feature length, a series of sketches that don’t quite come together as a movie.

Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride all play themselves as the initial survivors of an apocalyptic event that strikes during a star-studded party at Franco’s house (other celebrities show up briefly to get comically killed off). The self-referential humor is the movie’s least amusing aspect, however (a long bit about Rogen and Franco creating a sequel to Pineapple Express does nothing but waste time).

Instead, Rogen and Goldberg try to build on the dynamic between the Hollywood-embracing Rogen and his more curmudgeonly buddy Baruchel, who hates LA. But the emotional beats get steamrolled by the vulgar humor and the unimpressive special-effects set pieces, and the climax embraces the Rapture in such a definitive way that it turns into Left Behind with dick jokes. Some of those jokes are funny, but none are funny enough to make up for the movie’s deeper problems.

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