I’ve learnt to steel myself for a Seth Rogen movie. It’s not so much the language – ‘what the fuck, dude!’ has zero impact after its umpteenth outing – as it is the volume at which the profanities are bellowed. Like poor Johnny, Rogen has only one note.
But this is not as bad as you might imagine, even if, handicapped by the leaden bags of its stars’ egos, it doesn’t exactly scale the heights. It proceeds with the novel idea of having a bunch of Hollywood actors play themselves. Except for James Franco, they have generally made their name in the man-boy bromance genre, so it comes as no surprise to find wall-to-wall gross-out jokes centred on smoking dope, destructive ratbaggery and bodily functions – for mine you can only go so far with a routine about ejaculation before it gets really boring. But to pay it its due, there is a (mostly) ingenuous attempt by the celebrities at exposing themselves to ridicule.
A party is underway at Franco’s LA mansion. Jay Baruchel, Rogen’s buddy from the old days in Canada, is unwillingly dragged along – he hates this crowd and it’s easy to see why. It is two-faced narcissism central, and the script does not shy away from its characters’ blind self-centredness. Everything comes to a screaming halt with the arrival of a Biblical apocalypse.
Will the guys’ behaviour change while they take shelter from the fiery monstrous devil outside? Will they be redeemed? You suspect that Rogen and longtime writing partner Evan Goldberg have approached this with half a gram of serious intent, but in the end they are unable to steer away from their regular compulsion to garner as many laughs as they can out of being as rude as the censorship board will let them get away with.
It’s blokiness to the max, with a rape gag featuring Emma Watson that doesn’t work at all. There are some decent lines – the take on Rogen’s gluten-free diet is a scream – but fatigue sets in early.