The World's End

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Starring:  Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, and Pierce Brosnan

The World’s End is upon us, and I could not be more delighted.  As a huge fan of 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and 2007’s Hot Fuzz, I was incredibly excited when I discovered that Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright had teamed together once again for a final film in their Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.   The films are not connected in terms of plot, but all of the movies feature Pegg and Nick Frost and some flavor of Cornetto ice cream.  With The World’s End, Pegg and Wright continue to charm us with irreverent humor, rapid fire dialogue and the bromance between Pegg and Frost.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) was the king of the fictional town of Newton Haven when he was in high school.  He and his friends Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan), and Steven (Paddy Considine) ruled their school.  In 1990 when they graduated from high school, they attempted to complete a pub crawl, which would entail drinking twelve pints of beer at twelve different pubs along Newton Haven’s glorious golden mile.  However, they got too drunk to complete all twelve pubs.

Fast forward twenty years, and the gang has grown apart.  Andy, Oliver, Peter and Steven are all leading typical adult lives.  They have kids, are married, and/or have good jobs.  Gary, however, never moved beyond his high school years.  He still drives the same Ford Granada, listens to cassette tapes, and revels in past glory.  For Gary, the greatest moment of his life was in high school when he was the leader of his pack.  His life has not gotten better, it has gotten worse.  As he sits in an AA meeting, he realizes that his biggest regret is that he never completed the golden mile.  So he sets out to convince Andy, Oliver, Peter and Steven to go back to their hometown to attempt to complete the legendary pub crawl.  His friends, however, are incredibly reluctant participants as the idea of returning home and leaving their cushy lives to get wasted is decidedly unappealing.

However, Gary is an obnoxious force of nature and manages to cajole his old high school buddies into leaving their technology-filled mundane lives for one big night of adventure.  Unfortunately, their return to Newton Haven takes an odd turn.  When they arrive, the townspeople are distant and cold.  The old friends are dismayed that pubs that once held some level of historical charm, have been hit by the “Starbucks” effect and have lost all originality.  They still press on, and hit The First Post, The Old Familiar, The Famous Cock, etc.  At around their fourth pub, however, Gary gets into a fight with a local teen and discovers that he is not a real teenager, but some sort of alien robot.  The five friends find that they have to unite and finish the pub crawl if they want to make it out of Newton Haven alive.

The World’s End is a hilarious conclusion to the Pegg/Wright series of films.  While it is not as funny as Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End is refreshingly original.   It serves as a social commentary on issues ranging from the overuse of technology to the homogenization of society to political correctness.  Like Shaun of the Dead, however, this film also addresses the lead character’s inability to grow up.  For some people, the glories of high school or college are the best times of their lives.  King’s stunted maturity and his alcoholism are tied to the fact that he peaked at eighteen, and nothing that he did after high school ever measured up.  Even though, he is in his forties, he still lives like he is eighteen, desperately trying to maintain the highs of his youth.  At the end of the day, however, King simply cannot relive the past.

The film would not work without great comedic performances from the cast.  Pegg skillfully delivers his fast-paced brand of humor and you cannot help but chuckle at his frantic attempt to realize a dream and simultaneously survive the end of the world.  But Pegg is not complete without his other half.  I adore Nick Frost, and his bromance with Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End is pure comedic gold.  They have great chemistry, and their real friendship shines through in each film.  The dynamic just works.  Eddie Marsan (my favorite character on the Showtime series Ray Donovan) also stands out but as the emotional heart of the film.

With that being said, the film does go off of the rails a little bit towards the end when it more overtly hits viewers over the head with its message.  The World’s End loses some of its cleverness by beating you over the head with an overall moral.  All in all, The World’s End is a fitting end to this trilogy of films and earns a 0.03% rating.  I would say have a wine cooler with this one, but how can you watch this film with anything but a pint of beer in your hands?