The conclusion of the Cornetto “trilogy,” The World’s End follows previous genre comedies Shaun of the Dead (zombies), and Hot Fuzz (buddy cop mystery) with a healthy dose of science fiction. The trilogy is linked not by plot, but by the unique team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, similar themes of friendship and not belonging, and Cornetto ice cream.
Gary King (Pegg), once the undisputed (at least by himself) ruler of his small British hometown has fallen into something of a depression, fixated on the past. Looking for some sort of closure, as well as a link to the good old days, he tracks down his four best buds (Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Considine) and convinces them to reattempt an epic pub crawl they failed to complete in their wild youth. Returning to their childhood home they are surprised to find not much has changed, though nobody seems to remember them despite their supposed legendary status.
After an unusual encounter in the Men’s room, however, it becomes obvious the town has changed a lot more than the five musketeers thought it had – most everyone seems to have been replaced by __________’s. Not quite robots, these replicas are not human either, and have only selective memories (one of many recurring themes) from their originals. Soon the night becomes not just about successfully completing the Golden Mile of twelve pubs, but surviving, and perhaps defeating, an alien invasion.
Ultimately a movie about friendship, growing older, and a fixation on the past, The World’s End is also an action packed sci-fi comedy adventure with a bit of the apocalypse sprinkled on top. All of the cast – which also includes Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, and Pierce Brosnan – is at the very top of their game under Wright’s familiar deft direction. Despite being a movie about aging friends trying to recapture a part of their youth, this is in no way another man-child tale, thank goodness. These characters, as well as the actors portraying them, have all aged and they embrace that. Pegg’s Gary King sometimes descends into childishness, but in a way that makes perfect sense and is on the tragic side of comedy rather than the slapstick.
Obviously heavily influenced by the likes of British science fiction legend, Douglas Adams, and current king of sci-fi J.J. Abrams, in terms of story and style, it also benefits from a heavy dose of Wright’s own sensibilities. The dialogue is crisp and witty, which is good since the film relies much more on the characters here than the plot to move things forward. The story is pretty straight forward, even if it doesn’t lead exactly to where you think it is going all the time. It’s also very, very British, so if that particular style of humour isn’t your thing, you might want to steer clear. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen either of the previous installments of the trilogy.
In the end, it’s the end of The World’s End that I’m not sure about. I still haven’t decided if I like the conclusion or not – it is a little jolting and I didn’t really see it coming. Unsure ending aside, this is a great gem in sea of crappy comedies that have oozed across theater screens as of late.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was annoying that it took forty minutes just to get into the main plot with the robots. The ending also annoyed me.”
My Rating: Four out of Five Hats
The World’s End crawls into 1,548 theaters, August 23