"This Is the End" is a summer comedy extravaganza the likes of which hasn't been seen since 1963's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" — and perhaps not even then.
It stars comedians and colleagues Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride — as themselves. They attend a big Hollywood party at Franco's house, and the end of the world comes.
Rogen and frequent co-writer Evan Goldberg ("Superbad," "Pineapple Express," "The Green Hornet") teamed up behind the camera, too, to make their directorial debut on the movie.
It starts with a crucial joke: Rogen waits for Baruchel at the airport and a fan recognizes him, yelling, "How come you play the same character all the time?"
"It's something that I get asked all the time," says Rogen, who was recently in The City with Goldberg and co-star Robinson to promote the film.
"I think I play really different characters," he says. "Green Hornet? That guy is completely different from the guy in 'Knocked Up.' I'm happy with what I do, so it doesn't matter. It was just a funny joke to start the movie with, especially since I'm playing myself."
Says Goldberg: "We didn't write it until we got a loose promise from each of the six main guys that they were going to be in it, since it was so personalized."
Some of the actors had more notes than others.
"Jonah's character we completely redid," Goldberg says. "We wrote what you would expect, and he was like, 'How about we do something totally different? I'm the nicest guy on earth, but you can tell there's something wrong.'"
Robinson's character incorporated some of his comedy routines, but also some new, darker elements.
"Imagine you go to a set, and you take off this wardrobe and you put the exact same wardrobe on," he says. "They made a concerted effort to bring you as close to your real life as possible, and then take liberties with that."
Although Emma Watson appears in a fairly sizable role, "This Is the End" is a "bromance," about two guys redefining their friendship.
For Rogen, it represents a change from 2008, when eliminating a male-female romance from "Pineapple Express" was a "hard pitch."
"By now, it wasn't as hard," he says. "I think people fear that women aren't going to like a movie without many women in it. That's stupid. If a movie's good, everyone will like it!"
IF YOU GO
This Is the End
Starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson
Written and directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Running time 1 hour, 47 minutes