It’s…a…blast. Aren’t these supposed to be getting worse instead of better? Plus, how does Simon Pegg turn in his best performance, upon the completion of the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy(homage to Kieslowski definitely intentional, say the filmmakers). Pegg is in terrific form here, and unexpectedly touching as well. He also co-wrote the crackling, hilarious screenplay along with director Edgar Wright. And, of course, the whole enterprise wouldn’t be worth a damn, without the invaluable co-starring of Nick Frost—just as it was for “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” before this. You can watch them all in order, or you can enjoy any one of them “stand alone”. “The World’s End” is terrific fun, plus a sly stab at modern consumerism and its soullessness. Somewhere, George A. Romero is smiling.
It all starts out so simple…a pub crawl amongst friends. The ringleader is Gary King(Mr. Pegg), a knocking-on-40, recovering alcoholic. He gathers old friends Andy(Mr. Frost), Steven(Paddy Considine), Oliver(Martin Freeman of “Hobbit” fame)and Peter(the always marvelous Eddie Marsan). They’ll attempt to drink one beer each at 12 different pubs after gathering in their hometown of Newton Haven, culminating with a stop at the establishment aptly monikered, “The World’s End”. It’s a quest that’s been dubbed the “Golden Mile”, and the boys failed to complete it over twenty years prior. Now, with jobs and families and decades of baggage—they semi-reluctantly give it another go. Mostly due to the incessant badgering by their friend, Mr. King. But, almost immediately, things don’t appear quite the same in Newton Haven. The pubs all seem generic and interchangeable. And the people are different too. That is if they can even be considered “people”, at all.
Yes, this kind of attack on empty consumerism has been done before. But I don’t recall it ever being accomplished in such a sprightly and gut-busting manner. There’s even a degree of poignancy throughout, and a hint of romance as well between the characters of Steven and a woman called Sam(the delightful Rosamund Pike)—who just happens to be the sister of Oliver. Plus, she also had a brief fling with Gary back in the day. The dialogue is really crisp throughout this entire venture. It feels current, it sounds fresh…and, most importantly, it’s very, very funny. And Edgar Wright manages to keep this thing from becoming completely unwieldy when the tone changes dramatically come the halfway point. It could’ve fallen completely apart—instead it holds together beautifully. The extra high-quality of “The World’s End” was a welcome surprise. And with this team, I certainly should’ve known better. It’s super. Grade: A-
next review up: “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”