Lately, cinema has been in a bit of a comedy drought. A lot of comedies are released every year, but very few of them are actually funny. Sure, some of them are good, but it has been a long time since a gut-bustingly hilarious film has been released. With its ridiculous premise, This is the End seemed like it could be the kind of comedy that would be nonstop hilarious throughout its entire length. Well, I am happy to report that it is.

Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to spend a few days with his old friend, Seth Rogan. On his first night in town, Seth drags Jay to a party at James Franco’s new home. Anyone who’s anyone in Hollywood appears to be there and the party seems to be going great until a giant sinkhole opens up outside. After mass chaos and dozens of fatalities, Jay, Seth, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill appear to be the only people left alive. They decide to board up James Franco’s home and battle “The End”, whatever it may be.

The novelty of This is the End is that all the stars of the film play caricaturized versions of themselves: James Franco is obsessed with art, Jonah Hill is the nicest guy on the planet and Seth Rogan is a typical stoner. Luckily this novelty never wears off as writers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg are able to consistently come up with new ways to poke fun at their friends’ careers. Standouts in the cast include James Franco, Jonah Hill, the tough as nails Emma Watson and Michael Cera who actually gets to play a different kind of character for once.

Pop culture references abound and they range from the plainly obvious to the slyly subtle. Numerous references are made to the careers of these characters and every single one hits the comedic bulls eye. The creation of a sequel to Pineapple Express earns many of the largest laughs in the entire film, as does the many horror and Sci-Fi references that are scattered throughout the film. References made to The Exorcist are quite obvious, but a reference to 2007’s The Mist is a clever nod that fans of the film will appreciate.

Take away the comedy in the film and you are still left with a surprisingly engaging and suspenseful tale of the end of the world. I was truly interested in finding out what was going on and several scenes even garner a few scares. Crafting an interesting story is something that many comedies forget about nowadays, but thankfully This is the End is not one of those films.

This is the End has set the comedic bar for 2013 and it will be difficult for another film to top it. Crude, offensive, but also incredibly clever, this film knows how to do comedy right. It feels good to laugh again.

This is the End receives 3.5/4