'The World's End' reunites costars Pegg, Frost
Many devotees to the trio of director Edgar Wright and costars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost refer to “The World’s End” as the final installment into the so-called Cornetto Trilogy, which refers to a three-flavored ice cream.
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And while it may be apt, it was never really intended as such and was merely a throwaway joke by the director that got picked up and run into the ground by hungry fans.
So while it may carry with it many of the same faces (both in front of and behind the camera) of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” “World’s End” should stand as its own achievement, without the burden of the other two films on its shoulders.
It will not take long for that to happen, regardless of whether you have followed the previous outings or are a newbie to the troupe, as “The World’s End” will cement itself as a standalone achievement that manages to be one of the most complex, soulful and guttural-laugh-inducing comedies of the summer (or even the year, so far). Along with the similarly apocalyptically themed (and similarly titled) buddy flick “This is the End,” the film is more than laughing at doomsday, but an ode to friendship and the ties in life that can tangle, fray, but still manage to stay connected.
Beginning with a 1990 flashback, “World’s End” introduces us to five friends from the slovenly little town of Newton Haven who celebrate their high school graduation by attempting The Golden Mile, a 12-stop pub crawl that ends at the eponymous pub. It did not end well, and the quest fell far short of its goal.
Jumping ahead a couple decades, we are reintroduced to the ale-chugging chums, who have all managed to move on from that night - Oliver (played by Martin Freeman), a workaholic real estate agent; Peter (played by Eddie Marsan), now a family man working at his pop’s car dealership; Steven (Paddy Considine), who’s recently divorced but running his own successful construction company; and Andy (played by Nick Frost), a successful lawyer who hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol since that night.
Then there’s Gary (played by Simon Pegg), who has not only been unable to loosen the grip of that faded memory, but also he still dresses in the same tattered attire, drives the same car and harbors the same delusions of grandeur. His failure to complete The Golden Mile is the 20-year pebble in his shoe, and he feels that if he could reunite the gang (despite their almost universal distaste for the person he’s become, or rather, remained) for another pint-punctuated pilgrimage, he can perhaps close the door on the disappointments of life.
After they all reluctantly begin their quest, they begin to realize the grubby pubs of their youth are now homogenized havens of trendy drinks and disturbingly similar offerings. Even though they may have done so in the marketing, I will refrain from going into detail as to what transpires about a half hour into the picture, as it is one of the many treats found within the film for those who are unaware. If you are even the slightest bit aware of the genre mashups handled previously by the group, you can rest assured what ensues is no British “Big Chill.”
Screenwriters Pegg and Wright have seldom relied on familiar tropes in their films, but they have also never failed to include a number of homages to genre classics as well, which is no different here. The key element here is the amount of depth they provide when it comes to the process of growing up, moving out and moving on. Of course, it helps that they have Pegg and Frost as leads, who are now as comfortable playing off one another as Abbott and Costello.
It’s all rounded by a sterling supporting cast, from Freeman to Considine to Marsan, with enough room for the lovely Rosamund Pike to squeak in a few gags with the fellas. I would also be remiss if I did not mention the incredibly nostalgic soundtrack, featuring such Manchester-based favorites of the day as Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and The Soup Dragons.
“The World’s End” goes down as refreshing and tasty as a cool pint on a summer’s day, and leaves you buzzed about what’s next in store for a group of filmmakers with whom I wish to share many more rounds.