“The World’s End” walks and runs around many things to be appreciated and savored during its increasingly outrageous journey, and I was alternatively excited and amused by that during my viewing. Switching busily between several genres including comedy, horror, SF, and action, the movie also cheerfully brandishes its sense of humor even during its darkest moment, and there are plenty of laughs and surprises as the characters are frantically approaching to the last point of their journey to be finished.
When they were young and reckless in 1990, Gary King(Simon Pegg) enjoyed every moment for fun and excitement while hanging out with his four friends, and, according to his ‘selective memory’, the highpoint of that good old time of theirs was their thoughtless attempt of a marathon pub crawl around their hometown Newton Haven. They tried to go around all of 12 pubs in the town, but they failed due to too much of alcohol consumption, and then the next day naturally came with sunshine and accompanying hangover.
All of them left their hometown since that night to remember(or forget, shall we say), and everyone has been moving on with each own life – except Gary. Unlike his friends, he has been going down and down while never growing up, and we listen to his wistful reminiscence of those good old days during the opening scene before watching him attending some meeting at the hospital.
He still clings to his glorious bygone past, even though it was 20 years ago and he is no more than a jobless bum now. For recapturing his old private glory, he invites his old friends to join him in their second pub crawl in Newton Haven. In this time, he is determined to succeed in dropping by all of these pubs during one day while drinking one pint of beer at each place, and I am again amused by how aptly the last pub in this journey is named: The World’s End.
His four friends, Andy(Nick Frost), Oliver(Martin Freeman), Steven(Paddy Considine), and Peter(Eddie Marsan), are reluctantly persuaded by Gary and then go to Newton Haven together, and, thanks to five talented actors, we are constantly served with many comic moments of embarrassment. Gary is not exactly a likable loser, and Gary’s friends are not particularly pleased to be with him although they decided to come with him for old time’s sake. Gary behaves as if he were still young and irresponsible, and that makes his friends embarrassed and annoyed from the start while he believes that, as conforming to middle-class standards, they have forgotten how much they were fully alive. He feels pissed and betrayed especially in case of Andy, his closest friend who, as a recovering alcoholic, has been sober for many years. He does drink with others, but he stubbornly chooses to drink tap water instead of beer.
Now I should be a little more discreet about describing the plot, so please stop here if you want to fully enjoy the movie for yourself, though its trailers already exposed some of its surprises. As they manage to drop by the first four pubs as planned despite the personal frictions between them, Gary and his gangs are not so surprised to see that the pubs they knew have been changed a lot, but they slowly come to sense something is not quite right in their old hometown. Some of the people they knew in the past do not recognize them, and there is also faint but ominous air of uniformness around the places and the people in the town. That disturbing feeling becomes more palpable as Gary and his friends become more drunk and accordingly more visible, and the town people around them begin to look a lot like the extras from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”(1956) in our view.
The movie switches its main mode from comedy to action around that point, but it keeps hurling many moments of good laughs amid its tense, dynamic action scenes as tumultuous as “The Raid: Redemption”(2011) at times. The director/co-writer Edgar Wright keeps our attention held to his story while lots of things are happening simultaneously around the characters during several frantic scenes in the movie, and these fabulous moments are fueled by jolly humor to tickle us as well as brisk speed to excite us. They are surely fast and dizzy due to their quick rhythm, but, as proven in “Hot Fuzz”(2007), Wright a competent action film director with the good sense of space and movement, and we are seldom confused even when we are thrust into the middle of action where many body parts are crazily moved on the screen.
And the movie becomes more interesting and involving as its plot gets thickened along with pints of beer. As they realize they must stick together for coming out of the town alive, the old feelings among Gary and his friends are raised upon the surface, and it is sometimes pretty hilarious to watch as they are bickering with each other even though they are all facing the grave matter of life and death at present. Although making lots of fun of the conformity to mediocrity through not only Gary’s friends but also some powerful entity to be revealed later in the story, the movie also bitingly points out Gary’s pathetic immaturity; even at the most urgent moment, he still wants to complete his journey just because that becomes only thing he may accomplish in his failed life, and he is going to accomplish it by any means necessary no matter what will happen to him and his friends in the end.
The cast members are having lots of fun with their respective characters here, and their chemistry is excellent thanks to good comic timing and visible comradeship between them. Simon Pegg, who wrote the screenplay with Edgar Wright, and Nick Frost were an effectively complementing comic duo in their fun collaborations with Wright in “Shaun of the Dead”(2004) and “Hot Fuzz”, and they again hit every note right in their comic performances. While Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan hold their own places besides Pegg and Frost, Rosamund Pike brings some sparks to the movie as the sole substantial female character among these old boys, and you may recognize several notable British actors popping up here and there around the story as following their journey.
The movie is the final entry of ‘Cornetto trilogy’, and, while “The World’s End” does not have many common things with other two films “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”, the distinctive touches by Wright, Pegg, and Frost are visible all over these films. Through their smart and hilarious stories mixed with many goodies and lots of wits, they show love and affection to the movies they have cherished while irreverently lampooning them, and their sense of fun is infectious to say the least. As a zombie film, “Shaun of the Dead” was as humorous as George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”(1978). As an action film, “Hot Fuzz” was a lot smarter than many brainless action blockbuster films we have to endure during every summer season.
As a witty hybrid of different genres, “The World’s End” is as funny as other two films, and I must point out that it does a good job of making incorrigible human stupidity into a sort of human triumph against all odds during its ironic ending. After all, there is nothing you cannot do when you have just drunken more than 10 pints of beer, isn’t it?