Published on August 24th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant0
The World’s End
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright make movies about drinking and genre movies, so, it’s hard not to feel like, ‘they get me, man.’ From their early days on the show Spaced, they’ve mined geek culture with an insider’s knowledge. They started their ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ with Shaun of the Dead, which was one of the best-written comedies in recent memory, not just in it’s riffing on the zombie genre, but also in terms of the actual screenwriting. Hot Fuzz was fun, though perhaps not my favourite of their work. In The World’s End, they tackle drinking and the apocalypse once more.
Pegg plays Gary King, a 40-year old man that never let go of his teen years, and lives in a haze of nostalgia and substance abuse. He tricks his old mates, who are none too pleased to see him, into recreating the great pub crawl that they never finished in their youth, hitting 12 establishments, working their way toward ‘The World’s End’ pub. And without spoiling any of the juicy details for you, their attempt to recreate their adolescent hijinks is interceded on by some strange goings on that could lead to the end of the world.
The cast is excellent; on top of Pegg, you also have his constant sidekick, Nick Frost, who may have started out as the comic foil of the pair, but shows here that he can actually emote as well. Rounding out the rest of the friends are some acting and comedy heavyweights, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike.
As with Shaun of the Dead, the ‘horror’ parts of the film are well done, some of the visuals borrowing heavily from the 80s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and a few other sci-fideas. The movie has some laugh-out-loud moments and plays the spectrum from clever wit to silliness, though I wasn’t rolling in the aisles or anything. Silliness also helps with some of the leaps in logic you have to make — when it hits those tones, it’s easier to say, ‘it’s just a movie,’ and go with it.
The best part of the movie is what filmmakers of lesser quality usually fuck up — the emotional core. There are themes of friendship and nostalgia, and a gang of friends torn apart, not only by Pegg’s actions in the past, but by the crippling normalcy of life and aging itself. The screenwriting is pretty tight here again, and you never get more information than you need for any particular scene, which raises good story questions and maximizes their plants and payoffs. The dramatic elements of the story also balance very well with the comedy, and it never feels uneven. I should also mention the soundtrack here — they evoke the 90s in Britain well, using tons of great tracks from that era, from Suede to The Stone Roses. Hell, Primal Scream’s ‘Loaded’ features prominently as a plot point (and the sample of Peter Fonda in that song, from the movie The Wild Ones).
Is The World’s End as good as Shaun of the Dead? Well, no. But it’s not fair for me to really ask that question. Something amazing that this team did shouldn’t haunt them for the rest of their careers, and The World’s End stands on its own as a solid comedy that has the smarts and heart that most of the ‘shit and dick joke’ comedies that we’re faced with these days at the multiplex are lacking.