|Courtesy of Focus Features|
THE WORLD’S END
2013, 109 minutes
Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references
Review by Joshua Handler
It really doesn’t get much better than Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, the final part of his “Cornetto Trilogy” which started with 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and continued with 2007’s Hot Fuzz. I really liked Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but didn’t fall crazily in love with them like many others did. The World’s End, however, is a film on a different level than the aforementioned ones. It is by far the best of the trilogy for many reasons and is quite simply one the best comedies I’ve seen in the past five years.
The World’s End tells the story of a group of friends (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, and Paddy Considine) as they reunite to attempt to conquer The Golden Mile, a group of 12 pubs that ends with The World’s End. They had tried conquering this pub crawl back in high school, but failed. Years later, Gary King (Simon Pegg, also co-writer of the film) tries to bring the group back together out of their boring ordinary lives to give this challenge another go. To tell any more of the story would be doing you a disservice, as it is full of bizarre twists and turns that only Wright and Pegg could dream up.
This movie works on many levels. On its base level, the comedy is smart, somewhat vulgar, and consistently laugh-out-loud funny (when was the last time that happened?). The jokes are heavily based in movie references, which is perfect for film lovers. Pegg and Wright reference everything and anything yet place the references so perfectly that it never feels as if they are title dropping to show how much they know.
The story is also brilliantly structured. Nothing happens without a reason. Every character, every prop, etc. serves an immediate purpose or a purpose to be revealed later. The World’s End is a film full of constant surprises and features some well-choreographed action scenes that are simultaneously funny and thrilling.
Edgar Wright’s heavily stylized directing style works beautifully here. The energy on display is not unlike that which he brought to his superb 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The sharp editing keeps the movie flowing and moving at a fast pace, making it far from boring.
The acting by the entire cast is excellent. Pegg gives the best performance of his career. This performance isn’t as crazy as his previous ones and in The World’s End, he really gets the chance to develop a character that I really cared about. Gary King is an eccentric man stuck in the wild days of his past. He never grew up. Pegg doesn’t play this part like most actors would. While he is quick-witted, he still has a big heart. As his (former) right-hand man, Frost once again rises to the occasion. He is more likable than Pegg is at first and makes Andy Knightly someone to care about. His chemistry with Pegg is always strong, as shown in the previous two films in the trilogy. Freeman, Marsan, and Considine are great support and none of their characters are caricatures as supporting characters in a film of this nature sometimes are. They are fleshed-out and their chemistry with Pegg and Frost make it seem like they all have actually been friends since high school. The film is full of amusing cameos, which I will not reveal, so that you get to experience the film as I did – unspoiled.
The World’s End’s main theme is letting go of the past. Yes, it is a nutty British sci-fi action buddy comedy thriller, but it actually has something more on its mind. This is a movie about moving on and getting over past failures, two things that many people cannot seem to do. In an odd way, I believe The World’s End will touch people and move them.
Finally, it is refreshing to see a comedy that doesn’t focus on completely on sexual humor and vulgarity to earn its laughs. The World’s End is a heartfelt creation that uses its crude humor to develop character, not to shock.
As I sit here writing this review, I’m smiling thinking about the adventure I went on with Gary King and his friends. This movie is sensational because it is so much fun, but also so much more. The World’s End will give fans of Shaun and Fuzz what they asked for and then some. This is the most entertaining movie of the summer.