Considering the cast of this movie, looking at the filmography of each actor and each one's major works, I don't get much of a sense from them that they're religious or have much faith. Obviously, they're actors, so their movies are not going to always reflect what each personally believes or feels in their actual lives. I'm just saying that this film might be the first for many if not all of them to have one character hold up the Holy Bible and another actually pray to God. It may be for comedic purposes, but the overwhelming idea is conveyed here that not only does every character believe in God, Heaven and Hell, but that all those things actually exist as described by western theologies.
Seth Rogen plays himself or at least a version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm fashion. One could also argue that Rogen played a version of himself in 50/50 (2011), the movie written by Rogen's real-life friend who suffered from cancer. Despite 50/50 being autobiographical and dealing with an actual life-and-death situation, I don't recall the Holy Bible or a legitimate prayer to God utilized to the effect that it is here. 50/50 felt more atheistic, certainly more so than this one.
In this movie, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride all become trapped or rather fortress themselves inside what's called James Franco's new house in the Hollywood hills during what they reason is the Apocalypse as described in the New Testament. All Hell is literally unleashed onto the Earth from beneath it and only a select few are saved due to the Rapture, which at first looks like they might be alien abductions. Shafts or beams of blue light single out people and teleport or lift them into the sky.
Rogen and Baruchel think that like the myth of Santa Claus, there is a list of who's naughty and who's nice. The people who have been nice in their lives are immediately air lifted to safety or to Heaven. The people who have been naughty are left on Earth to deal with the Hell that's unleashed, the fire from below consuming the land and the demons or monsters roaming freely to ravage and destroy whatever's left.
There is a basic conceit that is concluded about half-way through this picture. That conceit is the list of who's naughty most likely includes all actors in Hollywood. It also probably includes most if not all musicians. While this conceit is probably true, it did have me wondering.
The story starts with Rogen picking up Baruchel at LAX airport. A few minutes into it, Rogen takes Baruchel to a party at Franco's house, a party full of his celebrity friends, mostly actors but even singer Rihanna is in attendance. Once the Apocalypse gets started, some people are taken to safety by Rapture. That includes no one at Franco's house. Therefore, we assume that all actors are as Ann Coulter and FOX News describes them. They're godless liberals, or if nothing else, the Hollywood lifestyle has such corrupted them.
After the Rapture, we see all these celebrities still on Earth having to suffer, and I was wondering why. For example, Emma Watson is left behind. Why? She's not given much of a pretext here. All we really have is the knowledge that she's spent the past decade starring in the Harry Potter films. I know that some Christian conservatives have criticized those films, but what does that alone make Watson so naughty that she wasn't taken by Rapture?
Another example is Rihanna. In the movie, Michael Cera gropes her. Robinson comes onto her but she rebuffs them. In her real life, she survived getting beat up by her boyfriend Chris Brown whom she forgave. Yes, she's done some racy music and videos, but what really did she do that makes her so naughty as to not be taken by the Rapture as well?
While we're left to ponder, the movie fills its time with typical penis and bodily fluid jokes. If they're not talking about or referencing the male anatomy, then they're talking about or showing fluid or fluid-like substances that come from that anatomy or the mouth or even the anus. The comedy fluctuates between Ghost Busters (1984) level to Scary Movie (2000) level of silliness.
The way the movie begins, you think the level of comedy might be slightly higher than both, like on the level of Curb Your Enthusiasm or even better. Yet, it quickly descends to base level. What happens is when Rogen takes Baruchel to Franco's party, Baruchel is resistant. We learn that while Baruchel likes Rogen, he doesn't like what Rogen's become, which is a person who goes to celebrity parties like the one at Franco's house and who has been subsumed by the so-called Hollywood lifestyle. Baruchel basically calls Rogen a sell-out. The tension from this, I think was ripe for good comedy, better or higher level comedy than listening to McBride go on forever about the seminal fluid he's going to spread everywhere.
That being said, the final act of this movie is very fun. It's just wild craziness that arguably has a predictable conclusion. The special effects were fine. Some moments felt tasteless, but I guess that comes with the territory in a Seth Rogen film.
Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for crude and sexual content, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 47 mins.