Writer/director Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg reunite with co-star Nick Frost to bring us the final chapter of their Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. This one’s green mint chocolate chip. And it’s pretty much perfect.
Following up "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz", "The World’s End" offers an insightful, surprising, astonishingly quick-witted, and quite remarkably fight-choreographed tale of paradise lost, paradise found, and plans past and present gone wildly awry. Populated by some of Britain’s finest dramatic actors in superior comedic form.
Here we meet Gary King, leader of his high school pack, which reunites twenty years after a failed attempt at completing an epic 12-stop bar crawl known as The Golden Mile. His friends have grown up and embraced the benefits of adulthood, but Gary's never quite grasped the concept, and persuades his reluctant friends to take another run at the Mile. Until they find the quest complicated by more than mere inebriation...
There’s laughs. Simon Pegg couldn’t be in finer form as an emotionally stunted, painfully disillusioned chronological adult unable to cope with life’s disappointment (which of course is what keeps it that way, as his friends repeatedly try to tell him, but there’s no arguing with him).
Pegg’s pinnacle emotional, mental, and physical comedy keep one’s attention fully captivated at every moment, and the work itself deserves multiple viewings for full effect. They don’t award roles like this any serious acting consideration, but it’s a cruel bias; the absurdity of the proceedings belie the power of his performance, but the anguish of his pasty-skinned, black-shoe-polished coiffed, eighties-goth-attired arrested adolescent never quite leaves the mind.
(And on that note ~ Eddie Marsan? Holy cow, man, have mercy on us. "The World's End" is relentless hilarious and I found myself almost resenting six lines of his that were delivered so powerfully as to cause genuine pain ~ I could hear people nearby wincing audibly as well. Pegg and Wright made that all well by the end, of course.)
And there’s fights. "The World’s End" is choreographed more like "The Matrix" than "Fight Club". Our heroes have no instant-download training, but they really show up well in a fight, I must say (especially considering the drunken splur underway ~ cheers to Dutch courage and secret strength!). One altercation that was actually threatening to make me a bit queasy was comedically relieved by an heroic "Get your feet off her!"
And there’s music. Best use of song since “Warm Bodies”, and given the inspired editing with which it’s woven into the story, a major reason for the film’s success (I downloaded it from iTunes within ten minutes of arriving home). Some representative highlights include The Doors’ “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)”, Primal Scream’s “Loaded”, Kylie Minogue’s “Step Back in Time”, and The Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion”.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I must share that I give "The World’s End" five stars because of that last one; the film may more empirically deserve four, you tell me. But as it happens, this defining anthem of Gary’s dawn-of-adulthood power optimism was also a major one of my own; I’m a contemporary of Pegg & company’s, and “This Corrosion” blared from my tape player during my own pub crawl days. It was also employed to unbelievably divine effect in the story, so to say this aspect was a treat would be the understatement of the year. Can’t help it; five stars.)
And then there’s beer. Lots of beer. I mean, a lot of beer. The full sixty pints? I’ll never tell, but it’s enough to make you wonder what they were actually drinking during filming (if you’re curious, you can find out was it was here).
You’ll notice I’m saying nothing about plot, and as per usual that’s entirely deliberate. The trailers and promo materials give away plenty already, so I won’t add to the risk. (But I can’t resist passing along some enthusiastic fan prep here.)
"The World's End" is a total endorphin rush, even for the twentysomethings who have yet to experience the full context (getting older with your favorite actors is actually a lot of fun once you get past the shocking years where they start playing the parents). The plethora of quotable lines will take another viewing or two to absorb fully, but they’re destined to become part of the movie lover’s lexicon. “Let’s boo-boo,” “Stop Starbucks-ing us!” and Gary’s version of “We’ll always have Paris” will leave you laughing all the way home.
Be sure to allow time for a pint on the way.
Story: 20 years after a failed attempt to complete The Golden Mile (an epic 12-stop pub crawl), five now-fortyish friends reunite to make another run at it, led by their emotionally arrested fearless leader ~ but staying on their feet turns out to be the least of their worries.
Genre: Comedy, Action, Sci-Fi
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Pierce Brosnan
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Running time: 109 minutes
Official site: http://www.theworldsend-movie.com/uk/
Houston release date: August 23, 2013
Tickets: Check Fandango.com or your local listings
Screened Aug 22nd at the Edwards Grand Palace in Houston TX