‘The World’s End’: a pub crawl with a twist
A review of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie “The World’s End,” which brings to a comic close the trilogy begun with “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.”
Seattle Times movie critic
‘The World’s End,’ with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike. Directed by Edgar Wright, from a screenplay by Pegg and Wright. 109 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references. Several theaters.
Down the picturesque street they walk, in impressive near-lockstep: five men, all 40ish, clad not in superhero capes but regular-guy raincoats and sensible walking shoes. Their leader, Gary (Simon Pegg), has a look of wiry danger to him; not to mention a head of hair too obviously dyed. They have arrived in the small British town of Newton Haven on a mission: to re-create a legendary pub crawl started but abandoned in their student days, 20 years ago.
Edgar Wright’s “The World’s End” is the last of a trilogy, all directed by Wright, written by Wright and Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. “Shaun of the Dead,” from 2004, was a gleeful zom-rom-com (zombie romantic comedy, a genre as yet uncrowded); “Hot Fuzz,” released in 2007, a zippy spoof of American cop movies, transported to a small British town. Now things come full circle with “The World’s End”: this time, the characters have a clear whiff of middle-age, and the story has a sense of finality to it.
Gary, once a rebel, clings desperately to his youthful identity; Andy (Frost), long estranged from Gary, now lives a staid and responsible life and isn’t particularly interested in revisiting the past. Gary’s a talker, though, and soon he’s rounded up not only Andy but Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Steven (Paddy Considine). Against their better judgment, they travel to their old hometown with an evening’s itinerary of 12 pubs — ending, appropriately, in one called The World’s End.
Need I tell you that things go terribly awry, and not just due to excessive beer consumption? And certainly I don’t need to tell you, particularly if you were a fan of Wright’s previous movies, that spending time with these funny guys is always a pleasure. (Gary, upon hearing that Andy doesn’t drink: “Shots don’t count, do they?”) Nonetheless, “The World’s End,” though thoroughly enjoyable, isn’t quite as much fun as its predecessors: It’s a little too close to “Shaun of the Dead” (and to Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) in its structure and gags, and while there are plenty of laughs, you wish they were bigger ones, particularly in the beginning.
But in late August, at the end of a not particularly satisfying summer-movie season, “The World’s End” should go down nicely — especially, I’m guessing, with a pint or two beforehand. Watch Pegg, remembering a past romantic encounter in a handicapped-access bathroom, murmuring to the object of that affection (Rosamund Pike), “We’ll always have the disabled, won’t we?” Indeed we will.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org