It’s done. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have completed their violently hilarious “blood and ice cream” trilogy with the aptly named, The World’s End. I was able to catch it this weekend with Ryan Partlow. We’ve seen the trio tackle that Zombie Genre with Shaun of the Dead, a hilariously British homage to the American Zombie flick craze that’s been steadily gaining in popularity for the last few decades and is now a full blown epidemic in and of itself. Then we saw them present one of the funniest and bloodiest takes on a buddy cop drama in Hot Fuzz. And despite there being an enormous amount of laughs and over the top sight gags, each of those films had a surprising amount of depth, creating dramatic moments shortly before someone got torn to shreds or had their head blown off… in a funny way, of course. Point being, Wright, Pegg and Frost know their craft, and rather than having the dramatic elements interfere with the humor, it mixes quite nicely, like hot fudge over an ice cream sundae. I was surprised to find that The World’s End explored themes of selfishness, friendship, depression and immense loyalty in such strong fashion, since the premise of the movie is about a group of friends attempting to drink 12 pints of beer at 12 different pubs throughout the course of one night.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) opens the film by recounting the events of one night he and his friends spent attempting “the golden mile” a 12 stop pub-crawl in which they attempt to consume on pint at each stop. We watch the flashback happen in quick succession, ending with their failure. flash forward 20 years and Gary King has changed very, very little and wants to get “the gang” back together to give it another shot. Gary, who has stayed in his 17 year old state in every way except physically, coaxes his four friends into giving it another go using lies and cheap tricks to convince his successful friends to have another go at the debauchery that fueled their evening 20 years prior. As the title of the film and the trailers suggested, the five encounter more than just alcohol. Robots (but not really robots, because robot means slave, and they’re definitely not slaves) fights and blue blood abound in plenty.
First off, the cast embodies their roles perfectly. After we’re introduced to the young versions of the five friends, we’re caught up to speed with where their lives ended up 20 years later. Frost in particular plays an entirely different type of role than he has in the last two films. While he’s normally the dumb funny one, he plays a man that has been deeply hurt by Gary King, who was formerly his best friend. The film often alludes to an accident of some kind, but that isn’t revealed until later in the film. The lengths of which Pegg’s character goes to preserve the past is one of the funniest bits about the film, he embodies irresponsibility and spontaneity perhaps better than anyone I’ve seen on screen. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg penned the script together, and it’s quite simply comprehensive proof of their ability to write and portray something different and multi-layered. Honestly, I don’t know how many genres this film would have to be categorized by.
As with the previous Wright, Pegg, Frost films the pacing took a little getting used to. While the advertising toted it as an all out action flick it does take some time to get to that point. I should have expected this, as it was the same with Shaun and Hot Fuzz. I’m in the minority, in that I liked Hot Fuzz better than Shaun of the Dead, but I don’t know where to place World’s End. As I think about it, I like it more and more. There is such a subtlety to these films, regardless of the body count. Each film in this semi-series is so different from each other that I feel like I need to sit down and watch the three of them one after the other. With a few Cornetto ice cream cones, of course.