"The World's End" concludes the unofficial trilogy from the minds of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. It seems appropriate for a movie like this to come out in a year filled with apocalyptic movies. "This Is the End" proved that end-of-the-world movies can be funny—but "The World's End" has another, even larger layer of well-seasoned absurdity to it.
The plot: five friends will try to recreate a teenage dream of "The Golden Mile". They will travel to twelve different pubs in one night and drink a pint of beer at each stop...that's sixty beers altogether. But this movie isn't just about drinking. No, that would be far too simple.
Instead, the movie throws us a big, blue, robotic curveball.
As compared to "This Is the End" which just justified all its over-the-top violence, gore, sexual references, and profanity with religion; "The World's End" is far more quirky and even dramatic.
This movie is mainly about aging and the mindset of a teenager.
In the beginning scenes, we are shown the life of Gary King as a young man. He's the leader of a posse of five, rounded out by four other boys. The ringleader, Gary is infamous for making bad decisions—he's also somewhat of a egomaniac, therefore he can never be wrong or even questioned.
The other four friends are Peter (the one that was bullied—the odd man out), Steven (someone who Gary considers a rival...at least, when concerning the ladies), Oliver (always game for whatever crazy schemes that Gary cooked up), and Andy (the best friend).
The day in the life of these young boys when they tried to conquer The Golden Mile ended with vomit, spilled beer, and hangovers. Yet, Gary (Simon Pegg) considers it to be the best night of his life. In his drunken stupor, watching the sun rise to let him know a new day has begun—it's possible that Gary had an epiphany.
But The Golden Mile was not completed—they stopped short for numerous reasons including being too high and too drunk to even continue.
Now, decades later, the five boys have grown apart. This inseparable band of young men have now moved on with their lives—that is, except for Gary.
Peter (Eddie Marsan) sells cars and is partners in a company that his dad owns; Steven (Paddy Considine) had his own firm, but got bought out and is seeing a 26 year-old fitness trainer; Oliver (Martin Freeman) sells million dollar homes; Andy (Nick Frost) works as a corporate lawyer; but Gary is stuck in adolescence. He's carefree and commitment free. Though he masquerades as a tough guy, it's clear that he's suffering both physically and emotionally.
On a whim, he decides to get the boys back together for one more night of total chaos in their home town...what could go wrong?
It's easy to convince all of the guys other than Andy, who had "an accident" and is still mentally recovering from it. But Gary is a man on a mission, and he finagles Andy into coming.
At last, the band is back together and they will return to the quest of The Golden Mile.
The mile is finished when the last pint is downed at the last pub, named "The World's End". Gary is determined to get there even if it kills him, which it just might.
Although "The World's End" deals with alcohol quite a lot—this movie isn't glorifying the consumption of spirits as some, too eager critics might think. Rather, it is condemning the nonchalant way that people go about drinking—particularly, the younger generations.
Compared to "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz", "The World's End" doesn't have the level of humor that it should. It's a far more poignant work than one might assume. This isn't to say that the film doesn't have funny parts—a laugh is never too far off.
It's easy to see Edgar Wright's handiwork—the quick edits and the treatment of the main man...but he crafts "The World's End" with much more intimacy than what was expected. It's not a happy story—simply about a sad man who is trying to relieve his past.
The protagonist is more shattered than Shaun or Nick from Wright's previous works. But this helps the audience come to closure with the end of the trilogy.
Simon Pegg, as always, gives a solid performance. Ultimately, however, it is Nick Frost who outshines him in many scenes. Going against his typical character, Frost has to be uncaring-ly caring...not the easiest thing to accomplish when you're trying to seem human.
The film overstays though—if it had only ended one minute earlier, it would have been much better. Alas, the implications of the last scene are not good—depressing even. What was intended for good fun doesn't stand up to analysis.
Though it is, in my mind, weaker than both "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz"; "The World's End" remains frightfully entertaining and hilarious.
Score: 3 out of 4 stars