Based on a short film called Jay & Seth Versus The Apocalypse, this feature extends that film's simple premise - Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel playing themselves experience the end of the world - and brings in a handful of members from their celebrity circles to have their superstar images - sometimes literally - skewered.

For all its potentiality to become a vanity project, there is something admittedly appealing about the concept of some Hollywood stars getting to playfully poke fun at themselves in the midst of a high-concept disaster movie setting.  It's Celebrity Deathmatch overseen by Irwin Allen.

The film begins chucklesomely enough with Seth (Rogen) picking up Jay (Baruchel) at the airport, the two having not seen one another for a year there's a weekend of weed and video-game based fun planned.  Unfortunately for Jay, Seth also plans to head over to James Franco's for a party.  Jay isn't so keen on the Hollywood set, but goes along with the promise that his best buddy won't leave his side.

Once at Franco's mansion we get to see a couple of cameos, most notably Michael Cera, and are introduced to most of the other members of our key cadre.  Jonah Hill over-eggs his friendliness towards Jay in an effort to ingratiate him, Craig Robinson brings the party together over a sing-a-long, and James Franco pokes fun at his stoner-intellectual persona.  Indeed, only Cera really gets to go to town dismantling his own image, and makes for a pleasingly unlikable presence.

As the carnage starts though things show signs of faltering - beyond a decidedly impressive first wave in a grocery store - the madness that effects the party is notably limp, with a lack of creativity in the ways in which the various celebrities are dispatched.  It's a surprisngly joyless affair, where there should be raucous outrage at the apocalyptic absurdity of it all, there are a couple of lazy splatter-shocks and a succession of stars falling down a hole.

Beyond this we hunker down into Franco's fortress-like mansion for the bulk of the movie, and gears shift to a haunted house sleepover vibe, and the arrival of Danny McBride brings in the 'housemate-that-nobody-likes' friction of various sitcoms.  There are a couple of throwaway laughs as they all knowingly pick on one another's cinematic failures, but it's all so chummy that it doesn't really feel like a strong enough satirical takedown of one another's celebrity, and stuff like their Big Brother-style to-camera confessions and the home video sequel to Pineapple Express are pure indulgence, devoid of any genuine jokes, reliant entirely on the hope that the audience will just enjoy this skittish silliness because it's famous funny men messing around.

This laddish group grows increasingly problematic once Emma Watson arrives for a short cameo, staying in Franco's room, the rest of the group indulge in an out-of-place, utterly inappropriate, pointless, baffling conversation that - for your sakes - I won't go into here.  It's lower than lowbrow, falling into the (God help us!) Wayans brothers territory with its lazy misogyny.  Once this rut has been ploughed the film becomes all the more willing to keep returning to mine this woefully thoughtless joke pit for the basest of possible laughs, but no laughs are forthcoming.

What you're left with is the world's longest Funny Or Die website sketch, dragged out beyond breaking point.  Oddly the film manages to claw back a modicum of interest when it forgets about the humour and strays, albeit briefly, into action-horror territory, but the cast has proved themselves so utterly unlikable that the greatest peril in any of these scenes is that they won't die and we'll have to keep watching this movie.

Clearly directors and writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are big fans of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's Shaun Of The Dead (indeed, Rogen voiced the alien Paul in Pegg's film of the same name), and they go so far as to nab the plot device in which a character unwittingly foretells the film's events.  Unfortunately, the nuance and intelligence that goes into the construction of the Pegg/Wright projects is undoubtedly lacking.  If their films weren't enough to prove it, this film is a reflection of the craft that makes those collaborations so great, from a storytelling, emotional and comedic point of view.

Rogen has said that about 50% of this movie was ad-libbed, and it shows, in the wrong way.  There is an over-confidence in the cast's reputation as 'funny' and their ability to just 'riff' off of one another, and whilst they can indeed exchange improvised banter that probably gets them corpsing, it's just a shame that it's so reliant on sledgehammer subtle stereotyping, playground name-calling and friendly-fire roasting.  Christopher Guest this is not.

I have (or should that be 'had'?) a lot of goodwill towards this cast going into the movie, I was eagerly looking forward to a shambolic, free-wheeling romp that allowed them to attack their celebrity, and each others.  I have a soft spot for some of their more notable failures as comedians, such as Danny McBride's Your Highness, Seth Rogen's Observe & Report, and they've all done fine work on a wide variety of projects before.  But, this is the Ocean's Twelve of comedies, a painfully self-indulgent, vapid, tasteless mess that ultimately is just plain arrogant, idiotic and nasty.

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