Much of this has to do with the likability of the stars, who play fictionalized, in some cases wildly exaggerated, versions of themselves. The conceit of Seth Rogen as Seth Rogen, James Franco as James Franco, et al, immediately establishes the tone of the movie—a giant inside joke where nothing is meant to be taken too seriously. When a party at Franco’s ultra-modern house in the Hollywood Hills takes a terrible turn it’s not just the outrageousness of the story point—an apocalyptic incident that may spell the end of humanity—but the way the characters respond to it that makes it funny.
Every time you think they’ve stretched this as far as they can go, Rogen and Goldberg go farther. Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, and even Emma Watson (!) hold nothing back, along with a gaggle of other stars in often-fleeting appearances.
This is the End manages to make fun of egotism and self-absorption, Hollywood high life, false friendships, greed, religious beliefs, and more. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea; I didn’t think it would appeal to me, in fact, but I bought into it hook, line and sinker.