The World’s End
Posted: August 23, 2013 at 3:23 a.m.
Writer-director Edgar Wright makes movies and TV shows about loser geeks who refuse to grow up. Fortunately, he makes funny, poignant and often clever films on that subject. Wright’s fondness for genre films and the people who love them runs through every frame of his work, and his affection is contagious.
In the final installment of the so-called “Cornetto Trilogy,” which takes its name from an ice cream unavailable in the United States, Wright follows the dubious path of Gary King (Simon Pegg, who wrote this, Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with Wright). The “Once-and-Future King,” as he has dubbed himself, apparently has only one accomplishment in his life. Single-handedly, he has managed to prevent all of the United Kingdom’s distilleries from every having to deal with unwanted surpluses.
While his beard, hairline and waistline have suffered for his excess, Gary still lives as if he and his mates can party like they did two decades ago. He even drives the same vehicle and listens to the same music audiocassettes he did then.
His chums, however, have all become emotional as well as biological adults. Andy (Nick Frost, Pegg’s regular sidekick) is a lawyer; Oliver (Martin Freeman, The Hobbit) sells flats; Steven (Paddy Considine) is a fitness enthusiast with a twenty-something trainer for a girlfriend; and Peter (Eddie Marsan) peddles cars. With surprisingly little effort, Gary manages to badger all of them into joining him for one last epic pub crawl to their old hometown of Newton Haven. This achievement is especially notable because Andy no longer drinks.
Pegg and Wright manage to make the seemingly pathetic Gary intriguing enough to follow for the first half of the film. It’s almost a Herculean achievement for him to have done so little with his life, but at the same time all of us are hesitant to let go of our youth and the feeling of importance that goes with it. It’s no fun to think of yourself as a layabout instead of someone who once drank everyone under the table.
Being that this is an Edgar Wright movie, viewers have more to contend with than simply watching grown men drinking in order to deny their adult obligations. “World’s End” may refer to the final bar in the quintet’s pub crawl, but it’s also an omen.
Despite all the property damage he has inflicted in the small town over the years, few of the locals recognize Gary or his mates, and Oliver demonstrates a tolerance for booze that he never had in his youth. Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike), and Gary find that odd and quickly discover that their old home has a dark secret similar to North London in Shaun of the Dead or the hamlet in Hot Fuzz.
Wright handles the comedy and the portents of doom with equal flair. His eye for action scenes and his sense of comic timing are equally unerring. He and Pegg have gone through this setup before, but they keep finding new angles to keep the material fresh. By having the characters confront their aging as they’re fighting an otherworldly menace, they become easier to identify with and to cheer for. You know a movie like this fails when you root for the force of evil.
The World’s End 87 Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike Director: Edgar Wright Rating: R, for pervasive language including sexual references Running time: 109 minutes
MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 08/23/2013