Journey to 'The World's End'
Aug 24, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Back in 1999, British director Edgar Wright got together with two of his actor friends, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and they created a hilarious TV show for the BBC called Spaced, which totally parodied geeks and their obsession with science fiction pop culture. In 2004, the three collaborated on Shaun of the Dead, the first film in what would end up becoming a trilogy of genre comedies. In 2007 the trio brought us the hilarious buddy cop action comedy Hot Fuzz. Now, six years later, we finally get the finale of the trilogy, the riotously entertaining The World's End. As far as I'm concerned, I think these guys are ending the summer movie season with a bang and I'm pretty confident that fans of their previous films are sure to have a blast with this movie.
The film opens with Gary King (Simon Pegg) proudly relaying the tale of when he and his four best friends attempted to conquer the fabled "Golden Mile", an epic quest of drinking a pint of beer at each of the 12 pubs in his quaint English hometown of Newton Haven over the course of one evening. Even though they couldn't complete the challenge, it still remains the highlight of his youth and, sadly, his entire life. We find out that Gary has been telling this story during a group therapy session for drug addicts and we see that his life has amounted to virtually nothing. Realizing that the only way he's going to get any satisfaction and attain a sense of self-worth is if he completes the pub crawl, Gary decides to round up his old chums to give it one more try.
Of course, a lot has changed in twenty years and not everyone is still stuck in the 90s like Gary, but nevertheless he manages to convince them to tag along for this journey of drunken tomfoolery. Joining him are timid car salesman Peter (Eddie Marsan), meticulous real estate agent Oliver (Martin Freeman), wealthy architect Steven (Paddy Considine) and his former best friend Andy (Nick Frost), a corporate lawyer who hasn't spoken to him or had a drink in almost 16 years. Gary's friends have all established lives for themselves, with wives, kids and flourishing careers so, needless to say, they're all a little reluctant at first to attempt this crazy endeavour. A few pubs and a few pints in though, they begin to loosen up and when Oliver's sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike) shows up, the old youthful feelings re-emerge and things start to feel familiar to them again.
The problem is though that things are a little too familiar in this small town - as in nothing has changed at all, and there's a reason for it. Now I don't really want to get too spoilery here, but there's a point where the film essentially shifts genres and delves into science fiction territory, and this is where the movie really takes flight. The shift in tone works tremendously well as the characters we've now grown to care about are thrust into a world of chaos and there's plenty of action on display. The great thing is though that the rapid-fire wit and dry humour is maintained throughout, even amidst these otherworldly circumstances.
The World's End (which, by the way, refers to the name of the last pub on their journey) is easily Edgar Wright's most ambitious film in the trilogy, and in a weird way, it's also the most poignant. The film truly centers around Gary and his kind of sad and pathetic attempt to recapture his youthful glory. He's an emotionally stunted and self-centered jerk most of the time, but by the end of the film you feel his pain and desperation and you just want him to get that last pint at all costs. Simon Pegg does a great job with this role, in fact the entire cast is exceptional in this film.
I thoroughly enjoyed virtually every facet of The World's End. Sure, the climax got a bit outlandish and over-the-top, but I still had a lot of fun with it. It's a briskly paced, funny film with a real sense of nostalgia and a surprising amount of heart to it. I think film geeks everywhere are going to really dig this mash-up of sci-fi and comedy. If you were a fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, then you have to see The World's End. What are you waiting for?
I give The World's End an 8.5 out of 10.
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