Cheers to the end!
Five former friends' pub crawl leads to intergalactic mayhem
Posted: October 23, 2013
Beer fit for a King. Gary King, center, is the so-called brains behind the idea of drinking a dozen pints in a single night at the pubs of Newton Haven.
It's been six years since Hot Fuzz, the last Simon Pegg-starring romp in an Edgar Wright comedy, and while he provided wonderful moments of levity in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and the first Star Trek installment in the rebooted franchise (and to a lesser degree in the second film, too), we have missed his antics in a proper British film.
But fear not, for Pegg and his band of brothers have returned, and this time, his mind is even more unsound than usual, and the unpredictability of his behavior is sure to bring a smile to most viewers' faces.
The World's End opens with a flashback to 1990, when Gary King, alias The King, according to him (although most other people have much more unsavory nicknames in mind), and his friends finish high school and try to do the Golden Mile, or downing a pint at each of the town's dozen bars.
The pot at the end of the golden rainbow is The World's End, but the five boys don't make it that far as a result of poor planning, rowdiness, general ineptitude and the biology of the human body. More than 20 years later, Gary has two major problems: He has not grown up or moved on in life, and he has not got over his failure to complete the Golden Mile by downing his 12th pint of beer at The World's End.
Directed by Edgar Wright
With Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan
In order to validate his existence, to some extent, and prove to himself that he can finish what he sets out to do, he tracks down his four pals - "friends" would be inaccurate, as he hasn't spoken to most of them in a very long time - and convinces them to tag along and relive old times. And so, the five of them set off to the small town of Newton Haven, where it seems nothing has changed.
Of course, we notice a few odd things here and there that seem quaint, but we (and presumably the characters, too) keep thinking: Perhaps this is only life in a small town, isolated from the hustle and bustle of the capital. But perhaps not.
Now, it's up to the reviewer at this point to make the decision whether or not to reveal the major twist halfway through the film. The first half is filled with inane conversations that we generally grow tired of despite Pegg's bubbly humor and his character's insistence on pursuing the lofty goal of drinking a dozen beers, whatever the obstacles, physical or otherwise. The second half is something different entirely, and if you haven't watched the trailer yet, which makes it very clear what to expect, the title is another very obvious hint, so there is little point in me trying to write coy. The bottom line is that the end of the world is at hand, and aliens have taken over Newton Haven (there are more clues in the name of the town, too).
The humor of the situation likely stems from this being a small town in the English countryside rather than New York City, which seems to draw cinematic disasters to it like a moth to a flame - or like Gary to a pint - and despite the self-appointed leader of the band's foolhardy ambition, there is ample room for sympathy as his four friends are genuinely nice individuals who frankly are much better than him.
What this invasion does to the quintet of beer guzzlers is quite a sight, especially because the earthlings have only each other and Gary's plan to cling to in order to survive, and they really don't care much for either of these options for survival. Luckily, no real secrets from the past are revealed, although a few things are cleared up in a more or less heartfelt, socially credible way. Especially considering this may be the end of the world.
The World's End is not quite at the level of Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, as the whirlwind humor of those two films has been replaced by a film that is more restrained and a main character who is a boozing bozo, instead of the other way around, which was how the cast and crew on those other two films managed to keep our attention and our empathy with them despite some equally ludicrous situations.
André Crous can be reached at