Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Run Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Samantha White, Rose Reynolds, Michael Smiley, David Bradley
Written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
Belly up to the bar and take a swig of The World's End (opening today), my friend! It's unlike anything you've ever tasted and although it may be a bit tough to swallow, it will surely lighten your mood. You may get a bit dizzy the more pulls you take, and there are moments toward the bitter end that will make you want to vomit. Sure, you may not remember anything shortly after, but you'll have one heck of an experience to share with your mates!
Not to be confused with other comedies this summer, This Is the End or In A World..., The World's End is the latest film featuring one of the best comedy duos currently going. Of course, I'm talking about Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the pair that starred in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and most recently, the sci-fi comedy Paul. In their latest flick, they re-team with writer/director Edgar Wright, who brought us the first two of those films. Wright is coming off of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a film that, if anything, had a stylistic confidence that made it at least feel different and fresh.
As the story goes in The World's End, a group of old friends from high school reunite to attempt another go-round of "The Golden Mile," an infamous pub crawl through the town of Newton Haven. There are 12 pubs - ending at a bar called "The World's End" - and their first try at it years back was one heck of a night to remember...although it was cut short for various reasons.
Gary "The King" King (Simon Pegg) is that one guy who mentally never left high school. Now in his 40s, Gary's biggest life accomplishment is still that legendary night and he means to "get the band back together" so they can finish what they started.
The rest of the group has moved on and grown up, but they begrudgingly go along with Gary on this epic quest. They are compiled of Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Andy (Nick Frost). The first third of the film establishes their past and present relationships and sets up "The Golden Mile" as the ultimate fraternal bonding experience.
That's when Gary gets in a fight with a young lad in the men's room and discovers that the boy is actually a robot, filled with blue goo. Soon after, the group of friends find that their entire childhood town of Newton Haven has been over-ran by alien robots, who spout flashes of light from their eyes and mouths and who have no discernible purpose other than to chase our boys from pub to pub.
Yes, The World's End is probably best viewed by gulping down a pint right along with them, for every pub they visit. How else to make sense of all of this nonsense? In the middle of the pub crawl quest and the robot attack, there are also colliding messages about moving on from one's past, friendship and alcoholism. There are explosions, chases, massive melees and even a statue that comes to life to mix into the action. And what the hell is Pierce Brosnan doing in this film?
I've not been so overwhelmed by a nonsensical plot since Bubba Ho-Tep, a film where an alive Elvis and JFK battle an Egyptian Mummy from a nursing home. But the silliness of films like these - and their self-awareness - bring them a certain amount of charm. There are surely laughs throughout The World's End, but the film feels like a Human Centipede experiment, where different genres and characters are unwillingly stitched together to create quite the monstrosity.
Nick Frost specifically is pretty hilarious, starting out as straight-laced, clean and sober and eventually finds himself punching his hand into the belly of a robot to retrieve his swallowed wedding ring. Simon Pegg brings over-the-top to new levels, bordering once in a while on annoying.
These two comedians pull The World's End from utter chaos and deliver some surprisingly emotional scenes late in the film. At that point though, this sort of movie has no business whatsoever in trying to end on a moral high-ground.
They drink and they drink and they have no regrets. Must the film end with our drunken hero ordering a water? The World's End wants to be a movie any drunkard could appreciate, but it eventually becomes a soulless robot itself, full of moral obligations to end on a politically-correct note.
You'll laugh, you may cry and you will definitely wonder just what the hell the point of it all was. But ultimately you will feel let-down by a film that at first celebrates and then shuns the essence of enjoyment that can be had from a night out on the town with the boys.
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