“We’ll always have the disableds.” Not quite the same as “Casablanca’s ” “We’ll always have Paris,” but in a wacky way the sentiment is the same and if the insanely witty appeals to you, “The World’s End” is just your pint of ale.
Directed by Edgar Wright and written by Wright and Simon Pegg, the same twosome who brought us the hilarious “Shaun of the Dead,” “The World’s End” is one of the, if not the most, bizarrely funny and clever movies you’ve ever seen. I’m not sure how someone thinks up this kind of story, but I’m glad someone is warped enough to do just that.
“World’s End” begins June 22, 1990 in Newton Haven, England, when a young Gary King and his band of friends decide to finish their school career with a pub crawl through town—one night, five guys, 12 pints, 12 pubs, with the final pub being World’s End. They never make it that far, but for Gary, that was the best night of his life and nothing has topped it since.
The action shifts to the present day. Gary (Simon Pegg) is in an AA –type meeting when he has an epiphany. He decides to look up his old friends and get them to go back to Newton Haven with him and do the pub crawl all over again, this time completing it.
At first Gary’s friends are hesitant on joining him. Seemingly they have moved on with their lives. Gary wears them down one by one—Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine) and Andy (Nick Frost). Andy is the most reluctant. It’s obvious that something happened between the two of them that long ago night, but he puts his misgivings aside and joins the group. And they’re off—in Gary’s “beast” of a car—with 90s music blasting from Gary’s tape deck. It’s all a rollicking sight to behold. Early on in Newton Haven the group meets up with Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike). It’s clear that both Gary and Steven had crushes on her and that renewed rivalry makes for a very sweet side story. The crawl begins and it’s not exactly going as Gary remembered. He spends much of his time trying to convince a now abstinent Andy to down a pint. Then Gary takes a trip to the men’s room…and YIKES! Nothing in “World’s End” is what you expect…and that is putting in mildly.
The ensemble cast is amazing. Simon Pegg is fabulous as the Peter Pan-like Gary, longing for and trying his best to live in the past, not realizing that the best may be ahead. But Pegg is willing to share screen time and each character has his/her turn to shine…even Pierce Brosnan…yes, Pierce Brosnan. Eddie Marsan may be the most familiar to American audiences and he is terrific as the sweetly shy friend. Paddy Considine is great as Gary’s rival for Sam’s affection. Martin Freeman is very funny as the never unplugged salesman. Rosamund Pike finally gets to show some acting and comedic chops and she is really good. Finally, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg’s co-conspirator in several other films, turns in a fantastic performance as Gary’s former wingman. And man, can he run.
“World’s End” score is great and the synchronicity with the pouring of each pint is just one of the great attentions to small details that make the film special. The dialogue is extremely clever. Pegg can riff with the best of them and the scenes in which he tries to convince Andy to drink—“water equals f**king rain”—will stick with me for a long time.
“The World’s End” could almost be called a coming of middle-age story, but it’s more than that. It’s about friendship, moving on and heart. And above all, it is FUNNY!