director Edgar Wright
viewed: 08/30/2013 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA
The final leg of their so-called “Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy”, is director Edgar Wright’s third feature film teaming with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg is not only the star of each film but also co-writer. All three films are comedies playing on different genres, but not containing any character crossovers. 2004’s zombie film send-up Shaun of the Dead was followed by the 2007 cop comedy Hot Fuzz.
The World’s End is the name of a pub, the last of a noted “Golden Mile” of a dozen pubs in fictional Newton Haven, and the end goal of Pegg’s character Gary King. King begins the narrative from a recovery program, where he narrates his days as the head of a small gang of teens in Newton Haven who embarked on the “Golden Mile” as the last day of their teenage days. Only 20 years before, they failed to make it all the way, so King is “getting the band back together” though he’s down and out and has burnt about every existing bridge along the way.
Pegg’s Gary King is actually hilarious, crass, pathetic and sympathetic, definitely the best “character” I think I’ve seen him play. And though the first part of the film, there is a lot of really funny bits and moments.
The film is certainly a mixture/mashup of genres but quite interestingly, it plays heavily with the teen party flick, or a more recent iteration of it. The flashback sequences could well be from any other teen movie like Superbad (2007) or Project X (2012). Only this is more like the washed-up middle aged returning to teen fantasies like in Hot Tub Time Machine (2010). It’s quite funny how the middle aged gang sees itself in its past as well in its present antecedents. There is something here, both comedic and perhaps deeper as well.
But the film is also a science fiction adventure with a potential end of the world scenario. Apparently, Newton Haven, an exemplary little English town has been invaded by some Stepford Wives-like alien robots. All the pubs have been corporatized and cleaned up. The townspeople are friendlier but soulless, given over to the corporatizing of England.
This is actually one of the film’s main jabs. And in re-reading what I wrote about Hot Fuzz, I’m kind of realizing that Wright and Pegg seem to be portraying the evolution of England in directions of bland homogenization. Maybe that’s true for Shaun of the Dead as well.
While Wright and Pegg might have always planned a trilogy, it’s only with this final film that I’ve really gathered that at all.
I actually liked The World’s End quite a bit though most of it. The robot thing is actually the film’s most pedestrian and unimaginative element, ending with a standoff that wants to be much funnier than it truly is. The long upshot is that it has some excellent bits and some less excellent bits, but is still one of the funnier films I’ve seen in some time.