In a month, we’ll all be subjected to a movie starring a group of man-children who like to get together from time to time and make (what they think are) funny movies.

I’m sure if I was one of “those” critics, I would go into Grown Ups 2 with an open mind, unbiased about the cast, the writers, or the director. But seriously, who goes into an Adam Sandler movie without at least some preconceived notion of what you’re getting ready to see? Especially since we already saw the first Grown Ups and know that (as I do eloquently put it) “Sandler couldn’t decide if he was making a raunchy, adult comedy or a sweet, family movie… and, as a result, it [was] neither.”

I was feeling the same amount of trepidation when I sat down for This is the End, another movie starring a group of man-children who like to get together from time to time and make funny movies. And ten minutes in, my fears drifted away like THC-laced smoke from a bong.

Evolved from Seth Rogen’s 2007 short Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse, the movie co-stars Rogen’s real-life best buddies, including Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride. The hook, though, is that they’re all playing themselves.

After Baruchel arrives in LA to visit Rogen for a weekend of weed and booze, they end up at a drug-fueled Hollywood party at Franco’s house, where the guest list includes Michael Cera, Rihanna, Emma Watson, and Jason Segel, among others. (The list of cameos is a mile long, so I’m not spoiling anything, and it gets better as the movie goes on.)

As luck would have it, the apocalypse happens just as the party is getting going, and it results in the untimely deaths of much of young Hollywood’s acting corps. Rogen’s crew, though, makes it through, and spend the rest of the film in a bizarre, raunchy, hallucinogenic, and even gross Lord of the Flies/Survivor scenario. Soccer is played with a severed head, demons do all kinds of nasty things, and every manner of bodily fluid is discussed or demonstrated in great detail.

Frankly, it’s hilarious, twisted, and downright entertaining.

Not for the faint of heart or squeamish (or prudish or remotely Puritanical), This is the End is riotous fun that superbly sends up Hollywood and everything about it. The performances are all off-the-chart self-deprecating; Rogen’s Green Hornet and Franco & McBride’s Your Highness are appropriately skewered… by Rogen and Franco and McBride. Hill’s Oscar nomination is jeered, and Baruchel’s Canadian upbringing is mocked. No one makes it out unscathed, and that’s just how they want it.

Co-directed and co-written by Rogen and his frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg, the film is an unapologetic satire. Thankfully most of the jokes hit their mark, all of the performances are no-holds-barred, and the cameos all work beautifully– led by Cera whose head-turning performance is easily one of the film’s most memorable.

The movie falters a little bit toward the end, staying from the comedy more than it should and veering almost into horror-shock territory, but eventually the ship is righted, and it’s capped with one last closing cameo for the ages (or at least the 90s.)

I’ll admit– This is the End was a pleasant (well… pleasantly over-the-top) surprise.

Your move, Mr. Sandler.

3.5/5 stars