The World’s End-attachment0

The World’s End

Movie Information

The Story: Five old friends are talked into getting back together to re-stage an epic pub crawl they didn't quite pull off 20 years ago. The Lowdown: Surprisingly deep — even moving — comedy of the very British variety. Not as wildly funny as Hot Fuzz, but consistently amusing and quite possibly better made.
Score:

Genre: Sci-Fi Action Comedy
Director: Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Rated: R

Supposedly the final film in Edgar Wright’s loosely grouped trilogy of comedies starring Simon Pegg (who also co-wrote the films) and Nick Frost, The World’s End doesn’t quite live up to its immediate predecessor, Hot Fuzz (2007), but handily bests the first film, Shaun of the Dead (2004). (Those who think anything is better with zombies may argue the point.) Wright has become a more assured and creative director (not unlike Guy Ritchie in terms of style), while both he and Pegg have become better writers. The first movie took on zombie films, the second the action picture, this one tackles science fiction. But the truth is that the genres — no matter how lovingly and knowingly spoofed — aren’t at the heart of the movies. All three films are ultimately about friendship and the charms, absurdities and pitfalls of British life. That last — the almost aggressive Britishness — makes the films play to a relatively select audience. This one is perhaps even more Brit-centric than its predecessors, but it’s not impenetrable either. If you’re in tune with the feel of British humor, the references you miss won’t matter much.

The World’s End opens with Gary King (Pegg) telling what looks like an AA group the story of a not-entirely-successful pub crawl undertaken by his friends and himself 20 years ago — an event he nonetheless remembers as the best moment of his life. It’s this memory that prompts him to track down those old friends and convince them that they need to make an attempt at that crawl again — only this time to make it through all 12 pubs (with names like The Trusty Servant and The Famous Cock) concluding at The World’s End as originally planned. The problem is that the others — Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine), Peter (Eddie Marsan), and especially Andrew (Frost) — have all moved on with their lives. They have grown up and Gary hasn’t — or so they think. But somehow — in large part by lying to the others that Andrew has agreed to the idea — Gary manages to rope them all into this trip to their old hometown of Newton Haven for this second go at drinking their way through town.

Of course, nothing goes according to plan — not in the least because of the simmering resentment toward Gary, but also due to the homogenization of the pubs. The various watering holes have become strangely similar, as has the pub food. The boys say the bars have been “Starbucked,” but the forced quaintness might better be described as Disneyfied. It’s a lot like the carefully preserved (at any cost) village from Hot Fuzz, but designed exclusively for tourists. The film reasonably uncovers why the town is like it is — and why some of the inhabitants haven’t changed in 20 years — in a manner that feels a lot like one of those episodes of The Avengers in which Steed and Mrs. Peel uncover a dire plot. Moreover, the film explores the nature of nostalgia, friendship, conformity and the plusses and minuses of moving on.

Most amazing is the way The World’s End keeps Gary from becoming a Brit variation on those tiresome Judd Apatow man-boy characters. There’s genuine depth here — maybe even tragedy, certainly desperation. Gary is exactly the kind of irritating friend whose specialty is generating scenarios that land everyone else in the soup. But the film insists we understand why he’s that way, and even sympathize with him because, well, this is really all he has. And just maybe, he’s not entirely in the wrong. This is pretty heavy stuff for what’s essentially a wild knockabout. It’s also what makes the film so much more than just another raunchy comedy. That it makes the “end” of the world amusing and tops it off with a terrific Housemartins song is just gravy.  Rated R for pervasive language, including sexual references.

Playing at Carmike 10

SHARE
About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

26 thoughts on “The World’s End

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    in a manner that feels a lot like one of those episodes of The Avengers in which Steed and Mrs. Peel uncover a dire plot.

    This hadn’t actually occurred to me while watching the film, but now that you mention it, both THE WORLD’S END and HOT FUZZ are reminiscent of the show. They are probably the best Avengers films we’re likely to see.

  2. Xanadon't

    The World’s End doesn’t quite live up to its immediate predecessor, Hot Fuzz (2007), but handily bests the first film, Shaun of the Dead (2004)

    I’d say that’s accurate.

    And there’s plenty wrong with the comparisons, but I’m okay with the Brits doing Hot Tub Time Machine better than America, while America does beer better than England.

  3. Jeremy Dylan

    America does beer better than England.

    A relative compliment if ever I saw one.

  4. Ken Hanke

    They are probably the best Avengers films we’re likely to see.

    Which one is Diana Rigg?

  5. Ken Hanke

    America does beer better than England.

    And that, I would say, is inaccurate — unless you’re limiting this lager, in which case I don’t give a damn. But as far ales of various kinds and stout, I’ve yet to sample any that were even in a class with Samuel Smith.

  6. DrSerizawa

    There are some local brewpubs around the USA that do beer as well as anyone. It’s kind of ridiculous and to general to say any country’s beer is worse than another’s. Unless you are talking about Asia. Handsdown the worst beer on Earth is in Vietnam, China, Japan, Taiwan, etc etc…… even Australian beer is better than that.

  7. Xanadon't

    I remember being impressed with Samuel Smith’s oatmeal stout (and their beer in general) though it’s been a long time. Kalamazoo Stout from Bells is legendary. Raleigh’s Lone Rider’s take on stout (the name escapes me) is damn good too. But on the whole I find American Ales to be bigger, brighter, and more inspired and often complex than most of the UK offerings I’ve tasted, which I generally find relatively tame and just not snappy enough. A matter of personal taste, I know.

    I don’t claim the U.S. to have mastered too many things in our relatively short history compared to Europe. But for me beer tops the short list.

  8. Jeremy Dylan

    My opinion of beer is lower than your opinion of television or comic book adaptations.

  9. Jeremy Dylan

    Which one is Diana Rigg?

    Nick Frost. Can’t you see the resemblance?

    On a more serious note though, I could see Rosamund Pike making a damn fine stab at the part. Not sure who an ideal John Steed would be though. Dominic West maybe? Colin Firth?

  10. Xanadon't

    (We’ve got a pretty special thing going on with bourbon too. It’s pretty much ruined any budding appreciation I once had for scotch. Irish Whisky still goes down okay.)

  11. Ken Hanke

    A matter of personal taste, I know.

    Definitely. I have never tasted an American beer — including these microbrewery things — that impressed me. It all seems like an imitation of a superior product or, worse, a stunt brew — you know, like cocoanut-rhubarb porter. I don’t really drink anymore so it’s kind of a moot point, but I’m still very much of a Brit beer fan. (Again, I mean the ales and stouts. I have never encountered a lager from anyplace that I liked much.) Funny thing is — and this is after being a lifelong Anglophile — that I’ve come to realize that I’m really very American, but not in this matter. Ditto bourbon, which I have never liked. It tastes like medicine to me, but, as you say, it’s a matter of taste — even if it’s purely academic now.

  12. Ken Hanke

    On a more serious note though, I could see Rosamund Pike making a damn fine stab at the part. Not sure who an ideal John Steed would be though. Dominic West maybe? Colin Firth?

    Pike, maybe. West, no — in part because he has about zero box office draw. Neither does Pike, but Firth’s presence could make up for that. Plus, Firth could pull off the panache. The real question is do we need this movie? I’m skeptical. I’m also skeptical that it could be effectively pulled out of its time. Part of the charm lies in its quaintness. That’s somewhere between hard and impossible to create.

  13. DrSerizawa

    This movie was on my to-do list as soon as I saw the trailer. Unfortunately I’m stuck with 2 weekends where I’ll have not one spare moment. I hope it stays 3 weeks.

    There are some local brewpubs around the USA that do beer as well as anyone. It’s kind of ridiculous and too general to say any country’s beer is worse than another’s. Unless you are talking about Asia. Handsdown the worst beer on Earth is in Vietnam, China, Japan, Taiwan, etc etc…… even Australian beer is better than that.

  14. Jeremy Dylan

    I’m also skeptical that it could be effectively pulled out of its time.

    Perhaps it doesn’t need to. Set it in the 60s.

    Edgar Wright can co-write (maybe with Steven Mofatt) and direct – it would be to him what the Sherlock Holmes films are to Guy Ritchie.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Unfortunately I’m stuck with 2 weekends where I’ll have not one spare moment. I hope it stays 3 weeks.

    Since it opened this past weekend, you really need it to hang around for four weekends, I think. Will it? Hard call. The fewer screens it’s on in your area, the better your chances are of it being kept afloat that long.

  16. Orbit DVD

    I think for me this film took a while to get going, but had the best second half out of the three.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Will it still take a while to get going on a second look when you know where it’s leading?

  18. Ken Hanke

    Edgar Wright can co-write (maybe with Steven Mofatt) and direct – it would be to him what the Sherlock Holmes films are to Guy Ritchie.

    Okay. Now, let’s see how you pitch another attempt at an Avengers movie after the box office nosedive that was the last attempt.

  19. DrSerizawa

    We found a way to see this this Sat. I find the idea of it’s unrepentant Brit-ness encouraging. Enough with bowing and scraping to the US market. This is the first movie I’ve felt anticipation for in too long a while.

  20. Ken Hanke

    Well, now the US market bows and scrapes to the Chinese market.

    This is the first movie I’ve felt anticipation for in too long a while.

    I hope it lives up to the anticipation.

  21. DrSerizawa

    Well, now the US market bows and scrapes to the Chinese market.

    That explains a lot. Don’t want to offend the slave masters of China.

  22. Jeremy Dylan

    Okay. Now, let’s see how you pitch another attempt at an Avengers movie after the box office nosedive that was the last attempt.

    I start out by pointing out all the things the last one did wrong, and promising not to do any of those things.

    I also point out that they gave the Batman franchise another chance after BATMAN & ROBIN killed it off. This has had even longer to fade from the memory than that has.

    Then I make the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes comparison – and point out that those films have made the brothers Warner 1.06 billion dollars.

  23. Ken Hanke

    And when they point out that the main target demographic doesn’t even know what The Avengers is?

  24. Ken Hanke

    Are you a sadist, or a masochistic who wants others to suffer with him?

  25. DrSerizawa

    Hokay. It’s the best comedy and in the top running altogether for me this year…. a year of largely hohum movies. I really liked the use of the Doors “Whiskey Bar” number. And of all things I never thought I’d see Pierce Brosnan glowing like that. But I especially enjoyed the dialog, once again showing how the English are still the masters of our common tongue. Definitely a superior effort IMHO and since it isn’t rock stupid I expect it to disappear next week while Monsters University and Star Trek are still running.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.