The World’s End
Gary King (Simon Pegg: Star Trek) fancied himself a god in high school. He and his band of followers debauched their way across their small town. A hard drinker, high and a hit with the ladies, Gary’s biggest regret is that he and his lackeys never finished the fabled Golden Mile, a one-mile pub crawl with 12 pints at 12 local bars.
Decades later, Gary is a paunchy, pale version of his former self. He drives the same car, wears the same dirty trench coat and is just as shiftless and hammered. What was sexy and mysterious at 18 is now pathetic.
In a delusional attempt to reclaim his self-proclaimed title as the King, Gary contrives to get his mates back together and conquer The Golden Mile.
Gary’s friends aren’t perpetual adolescents, so it’s tough to convince them to rejoin the drunken fold. Steven (Paddy Considine: Girl on a Bicycle) is a health nut who just made a mint selling his company. Peter (Eddie Marsan: Jack the Giant Slayer) works at his family’s car dealership. Oliver (Martin Freeman: The Hobbit) manages properties in London. Andy (Nick Frost: Ice Age) is a sober lawyer with no interest in ever seeing Gary again.
Lies, begging and unreasonable arguments finally get the boys back together for the ultimate pub crawl. Two beers in, Gary is flying high while the boys roll their eyes. Three beers in, things start getting weird. Five beers later, they are getting suspicious.
The pubs are the same, but the people of their sleepy little hamlet have changed. At first, the changes seem minor, but soon the group starts to notice that the entire township is acting off, as if a foreign presence has taken over their bodies. Is it an alien invasion? A group of robots assimilating society to take over the world?
The boys know they must stop whatever threat is facing their town, but first they need another pint. That’s right, Earth’s only hope of salvation are the drunk 40-year-old men at the end of the bar.
Can they stop the takeover? Can they convince Gary to grow up? Can any of them walk a straight line?
Don’t plan a pub crawl after seeing this movie.
The World’s End is a tipsy mash up of the man-child comedies that have permeated recent cinema. Brash, funny and often peculiarly touching, this is a great movie about the dangers of aliens and drinking. Gary often seems hopeless, but in a way, The Golden Mile, and the events that interrupt it, are the best intervention he could hope for.
Director Edgar Wright, who regularly teams up with writer/star Pegg, completes the team’s Cornetto Trilogy (named after the three flavors of the ice cream treat) with this fun sci-fi spoof. Pegg and Wright are brilliant at subverting beloved genres, using wit to point out plot failings while celebrating them. The World’s End benefits from deft editing and the creators’ love of sci-fi. The creatures look cool and are appropriately creepy. Aficionados will spot references to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Day the World Stood Still and more.
More important than a clever visual reference is the able writing that has become a hallmark of a Pegg/Wright film. Gary, who could easily be a grating cliché, is instead somewhat likeable because of his affable delusions of grandeur. As the beer and terror flow, Gary’s thin veneer begins to crack, and the real Gary emerges. It’s sad, funny and a little terrifying.
The biggest acting coup in the movie, however, is Frost’s performance as the loyal, straight-laced Andy. Usually the loutish Abbott to Pegg’s Costello, Frost turns in a credible performance as the straight man of the team.
Filled with drunken debauchery, sci-fi plotlines and fantastic dialog, The World’s End is the flick for viewers who want a little brains with their action.