‘The World’s End,’ successful comedy
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 23:09
The team behind “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” are back to conclude their loose trilogy of comedy mayhem with “The World’s End,” and just like its predecessors, it’s a slice of fried gold.
“The World’s End” is the funniest comedy of the year. It’s also an exhilarating action movie, a prescient science fiction film and a heartfelt buddy flick. Brewed together, these elements make for the one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen in quite some time.
Simon Pegg (who co-wrote the film with director Edgar Wright) plays Gary King, an alcoholic who’s so stuck in the past that he continues to wear the same black duster that he brandished in his glory days. His life plateaued in 1990, when he and his four friends attempted to complete ‘The Golden Mile: 12 pubs, 12 pints, one night. The only problem is that they all became so drunk that they failed to complete their journey.
Fast-forward to present day and Gary has an epiphany at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that sends him scrambling to get the estranged gang back together, and return to their hometown of Newton Haven to finally complete their epic pub crawl.
Pegg is perfect in the role, giving the best performance of his career thus far. Gary is obnoxious, narcissistic, manipulative and clueless but he’s also oddly charming and endearing. You can’t help but sympathize with his pathetic plight to get the band back together because you know this adventure is all he has left in the world.
However, each of his four friends is a tough sell, having moved on to seemingly idyllic lifestyles. Oliver (Martin Freeman) sells real estate, Steven (Paddy Considine) is an architect, Peter is heir to a BMW car dealership and Andy (Pegg’s usual partner-in-crime Nick Frost) is a corporate lawyer who’s 16 years sober thanks to Gary’s past antics.
The “Five Musketeers,” as Gary calls them, decide to come together mostly out of pity for their friend, but a few drinks in and they’re all mostly back to their past brotherly rapport. There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie. The dialogue between the gang is quick, catchy and consistently funny.
A lot of care was put into the characters’ back stories and shared history making it feel like you’re actually dropping in on the musings of old friends. As the alcohol flows, the boys share fond memories, inside jokes and even rekindle friendly rivalries.
The acting is flawless. I especially enjoyed the subtle way the characters seem to get more intoxicated as the night wears on. You can tell the actors are having a blast. The sense of fun is palpable.
And then the real fun begins.
It would be criminal to spoil what happens next, but I will say that eventually Gary and company discover that their livers aren’t all that’s being threatened by their return to Newton Haven. A battle ensues that puts their lives — and possibly the fate of the entire world — at risk.
Where “Shaun of the Dead” spoofed horror films and “Hot Fuzz” took aim at action movies, “The World’s End” has set its sights on science fiction, and the omnipresent apocalypse theme that runs rampant in our popular culture.
The action is elegantly choreographed and shot with an infectious energy thanks to director Edgar Wright’s signature organic transitions and punchy editing. The special effects are dazzling for a film of this scale and really draw you in to the more outlandish proceedings of the second half.
What I enjoyed most, though, were the pauses in the action and showmanship, where the tension between the characters is brought into the foreground. At the heart of “The World’s End” is a touching and emotional ode to friendship and a reminder that it’s not your past that matters, it’s who you shared it with that’s important.
Such drastic tonal shifts would seem jarring and contrived in a less accomplished film, but Wright weaves together these disparate genres seamlessly. I will admit that some scenes feel rushed, and the third act is a little rough, but it does little to harm the overall impact. This truly is a film with something for everyone.
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have completed the quintessential comedy trilogy. Here’s hoping that these three immensely talented musketeers can continue to collaborate well after “The World’s End.”
4.5 out of 5 Stars.