Review: The World's End
While having once attempted and failed an epic 12-bar pub crawl while in high school, five friends have grown up and apart – save for one Gary King. Looking to hold on to his youth, King reconnects with his reluctant and more mature friends to undertake the crawl once more. While on the third or fourth bar, however, weird stuff starts to happen in their old bucolic stomping grounds.
Simon Pegg is wonderfully irritating as the man-child Gary King, while Nick Frost plays it straight whilst oft running and fighting, and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Sherlock) has a bit of fun succumbing to his environment. Keep your eye out for Pierce Brosnan, and your ear perked for Bill Nighy.
It is the end, for better and worse. Coming to a close is the so-called Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy of films directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, among others, that started with Shaun of the Dead and continued with Hot Fuzz. So, what better occasion than to share a pint? Or 12?
What begins as a dubious pub crawl led by the emotionally and mentally stunted Gary King, a man who lives so far into the hazy past that he attributes famed lyrics to his own warped mind, takes a turn for the weird and chaotic. When that moment arrives, as they tend to do in this trilogy that puts our protagonists in the way of dangerous collective groups (previously the undead and the cultish), the movie actually becomes more fun and lighthearted instead of dark and foreboding.
That’s because this exercise in nostalgia is plenty uncomfortable, for King is relentless. A lying loudmouth, keen on boozing and scoring and pretending to be popular, King still wears his black coat and hasn’t changed a lick since high school.
King lies to get his four friends (Freeman, Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan) to get them to tag along. They’ve all grown up, with families and careers and responsibilities – Frost’s characters insists on water instead of a pint at each bar, and King is dumbfounded, but undeterred.
While it may seem eerily similar to another apocalyptic brotherly bonding film from this side of the pond, This Is the End, we’ve here a film far more grounded in reality – at least for the first half.
So when the science fiction element enters the fray, during a washroom confession at that, it’s not as dire as one might think. The World’s End is the name of the last bar on the tour, the holy grail of sorts, but too of course an omen, and not just because of there is a strange aura hovering over the townspeople.
The turn is bittersweet. The film naturally gets far sillier and more fantastical, but it alleviates the discomfort that takes place while watching during the first half. It’s the beginning that is more fascinating, more dramatic and pointed, with honest conversations about maturity, friendship, and the ties that bond and those that divide.
Still, the action portion is entertaining enough, if not over the top and frenetic. The ending bobs and weaves, and there is a good chance you’ve give up before the end – as some do on this crawl. There may be less meaning in the finale than intended, but taken as a metaphor, it holds some water. Or beer, I suppose.
Should You See It?
If you’ve seen the first two films, then definitely catch this. If not, catch it anyway, and laugh away.