Five middle-aged men who were boyhood chums reunite to take part in a pub crawl they never finished when they were in high school. FYI: The legal drinking age is 18 in the UK for shocked American readers. Known as the Golden Mile, the 12 pubs are situated in Newton Haven. You see it’s really eternal man-child Gary King (Pegg), the self appointed leader of the group, that has re-assembled the old gang. Having grown up and moved on, the group has begrudgingly acquiesced after being tricked into showing up. They haven’t hung out simultaneously since their school days. Gary and Andy have actually been estranged because of an accident on that fateful night.
This is the third entry directed by Edgar Wright and written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who also star. The 3 films were nicknamed The Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy. For the uninitiated, the word “Cornetto” is a brand of ice cream in the UK similar to Nestlé’s Drumsticks. Shaun of the Dead presents strawberry signifying blood and gore, Hot Fuzz features classic Cornetto with a blue wrapper representing the police and The World’s End highlights green mint chocolate chip with a nod to sci-fi. None of this is important to appreciate this tale. I only mention it because I’ve yet to read a review that explains this bit of obscurity for the audience.
The World’s End is a humorous romp that suitably entertains on its own merits. It’s probably the least funny of the three, but that’s comparing it to two very enjoyable classics. It percolates with a refreshing wit rarely seen in run-of-the-mill comedies. And it’s not necessary to have seen the other two films. Still, for those who are familiar, this entry is sure to hold more gratification. For example Simon Pegg, who usually represents the straight man to Nick Frost’s wild displays, switches temperaments this go around. There are in-jokes that connect each of these pictures together. Aficionados of Edgar Wright’s will delight in the kind of repartee with which followers have become accustomed. At first much of the humor depends on Gary’s inability to grown up as contrasted with the other four’s more responsible, conventional mentalities.
The World’s End spotlights some nuanced character-building immersed in a story shift that had my eyes wide, mouth agape. The fab five mesh well as an ensemble. There is a genuine camaraderie here as it initially unfolds out like a reunion of old friends and nostalgia. They are eminently believable as reunited buddies hanging out. There are some nicely affecting moments where these individuals are fleshed out. Then a midway reveal flips the script to a complete 180 genre switch. The focus expands from nostalgic drama to science fiction. It’s an amusing disclosure that subverts expectations. I won’t explain more than that but if you’re interested in being surprised, don’t watch the trailer. This allows our “Five Musketeers” to display their impressive athletic skills in lively fight scenes. I loved the shock but here’s where things deteriorate. Subsequent uneven pacing had me checking my watch during the final third. It can even drag a little near the end. However all in all this is an entertaining comedy with a solid screenplay. Fans of the trilogy will be quoting the witty one liners with joy.
“A man of your legendary prowess drinking f—ing rain! It’s like a lion eating hummus.” –Gary King after his friend Andy orders tap water in a bar.