‘This is the End’, ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Oblivion’, ‘After Earth’, ‘World War Z’, ‘Warm Bodies’, and now ‘The World’s End’ – our poor planet; one would think Roland Emmerich directed all these movies but he decided to scale back this year with his ‘Die Hard’ in the White House project. ‘The World’s Ends’ marks the third entry in Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto’ Trilogy; now, this snack will be best enjoyed by those who saw the first two entries in the “series” – ‘Shaun of the Dead’, and ‘Hot Fuzz’ – to those who haven’t, consider this a highly recommended homework exercise. But, it isn’t a prerequisite to appreciating what’s on display here – even with all the boozage, this movie can stands on its own two feet.
Why is it called the Cornetto Trilogy? Well, each film in the series features a different color/flavor(?) of Cornetto ice cream. It’s as simple as that.
As for the plot – we follow a group of friends in their 40s who discover an alien invasion during an intense pub crawl along the Golden Mile (which encompasses twelve bars, the last of which is called The World’s End). They attempted the pub crawl back in 1990 but never made it to the finish line.
Like its two predecessors, the script was written by Mr. Wright and Simon Pegg; Mr. Pegg stars in the picture alongside Nick Frost. Along for the ride this time are Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Rosemund Pike. Who wouldn’t want to go drinking with these guys? The show stealer here is Pegg – charismatic but idiotic; he’s also broken and clingy. Academy voters never reward comedies – at the end of 2013, I challenge anyone to name five other lead male performances with this much range. I’m serious – I think he is that good. My only very minor quibble with the picture – Rosemund Pike (the one female cast member) doesn’t have nearly enough to do (a common mistake among pictures having a dominantly male cast).
After the hilarious first act, I found myself wondering if the Five Musketeers (Pegg’s brilliantly idiotic character doesn’t seem know to know many musketeers there were) could sustain its high energy, heart, and humor – the answer was a resounding yes. Oddly enough, I became more involved as the story progressed despite the many abrupt tonal shifts that I would normally rip other films apart for; this comedic team can perform the trick high-wire act because they’ve deconstructed the genre (or sub-genre) into its basic elements and created their own rules in terms of construction. If the movie feels messy, that’s because it’s supposed to. Like ‘This is the End’, ‘The World’s End’ does turn into a chaotic sci-fi comedy with lots of in jokes and 90s pop-cultural references (some of which, admittedly, had to be explain to me).
This could be called ‘Monty Python and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ or even ‘Village of the Damned Drunks’ but I think the movie is much smarter than that. The writing is keenly observant; both in its wild comedic exchanges and its low-key moments which make us realize that there is a sweet human element to this. There aren’t too many apocalyptic pictures that can be described as cute and heartfelt. Even when the film goes in directions we can’t possibly expect (and does become gleefully violent), it still gives the main actors a chance to show us dramatic range that we haven’t seen in their previous collaborations. I suppose global (or at a bare minimum, regional) annihilation can be utilized for some relationship workshopping; after all, this was also the case in ‘After Earth’ and ‘This Is The End’ but it just feels more authentic here. There is a sense of the world ending from an internal perspective – growing up and gaining responsibility at the expense of one’s sense of adventure; and how much we want to relive those times. I’ve seen a number of friends in recent weeks who talk at endless lengths about how good it was back in the day. Some have grown up, others haven’t – or more appropriately, refuse to do so. I think this movie captures that notion wonderfully.
Why beat around the bush? ‘The World’s End’ might just be the most fun you’ll have at the movies this year. Thanks to hilariously clever (and profane) script, the typically hilarious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along with its excellent supporting cast, as well as the editing, special effects and set design, this movie is a completely blast from start to finish. “The World’s End’ is everything ‘The Hangover’ movies should have been – there won’t be any headaches with this one. Thank you, Edgar Wright – I can think of no better way to wrap up this Cornetto Trilogy. Cheers mate! QED.