Five guys. Twelve pubs. Fifty pints… Sixty Pints.
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are geniuses. I only list them separately since they’re the only two credited writers for all three films of the “Cornetto Trilogy”. Nick Frost is brilliant as well. I’ve been watching this trio since “Shaun of the Dead” hit the scene nearly a decade ago. Comedy in modern society seems to move in shifting phases. Fifteen years ago Adam Sandler was on top of the world, and everyone wanted to mimic his comedy. Lately, the Apatow crew are the box office kings. But twenty years from now, or thirty or more, when people look back at this time and think of comedy. I hope they think of these three Brits and their Blood & Ice Cream movies. The trilogy concludes this year with “The World’s End”. And a bittersweet ending it is at that.
Twenty years ago, Gary King and his friends, Andy, Steven, Peter, and Oliver attempted a legendary pub crawl called The Golden Mile. Twelve pubs in one night. They failed. Now, pushing forty and with nothing left to lose, Gary gets the boys back together for one more crack at the mile. From the First Post to the World’s End. What begins as a reluctant reunion soon takes a frightening turn when they boys discover that their picturesque hometown is no longer as they remember it. Newton Haven has been taken over by a mysterious force that threatens all of mankind. All Gary and company can do now is down their drinks quickly, and conquer the mile before the enemy gets wise to them.
“A man of your legendary prowess drinking fucking RAIN! It’s like a lion eating hummus.”
For a plot so seemingly childish I have to say “The World’s End” is Wright’s most mature work. His talent as a filmmaker continues to impress and all his skills come into play here. The film just feels so complete and really carries the finality of its status. It’s a wonderful conclusion to the trilogy. I can name very few films that I’ve sat through and felt completely happy from start to finish. This is one of them. It’s a strange feeling to describe, but simply put, I was very, very rarely not smiling, and when it was over I felt the catharsis that I believe was intended for the series’ fans.
The action is directed fantastically. We’re treated to more and more ridiculous fight and chase scenes as the film progresses and our heroes get more and more loaded. There’s a particularly impressive brawl in the early part of the film that is almost entirely one shot. It’s one of the highlights of the film in terms of pure choreography and visuals. And of course, everything is accompanied by a kickass soundtrack ripped straight from an early 90s adolescence. It gives the scenes a big boost and really sets the tone throughout, constantly driving the film along until you feel yourself walking the mile with the boys.
“I still think nothing that has been suggested in the last ten minutes beats ‘smashy-smashy egg people’.”
There’s a few entertaining cameos that’ll make fans of Wright’s early work happy. Mark Heap shows up for a bit, along with Julia Deakin. Pierce Brosnan has a great scene in pub #9 (The Beehive). Among the cast, I’d have to say that Nick Frost really stands out. He’s proven himself capable of being the hilarious sidekick time and time again. Here, he carves out a truly sympathetic hero with depth. And he also kicks a lot of ass. Repeatedly. Simon Pegg takes the opportunity to break away from his role as the straight man and have some fun with the semi-psychotic Gary, a 38-year old man-child trapped in the past. The other three lads, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan all have their own shining moments and round out the cast spectacularly. All in all, the characters are just enjoyable to watch. It feels exactly like taking a trip to the pub with some old friends.
“Shaun of the Dead” took the zombie film and spun it on its head. Blood was splattered, tears were shed, it hit many points, high and low, outrageous and tragic. “Hot Fuzz” went the more obvious comedy route with a brilliant spoof on buddy-cop stories and action flicks in general. “The World’s End” doesn’t rely on parody. Yes, the sci-fi story is there and it’s handled in a manner that draws laugh after laugh, but it is so much more. It’s friendship. It’s nostalgia. It’s every hope and dream of youth spat back into your adult face after a lifetime of mediocrity and disappointment. It’s a wake-up call for a generation of people who didn’t get what they expected out of life.
“Get back in your rocket and fuck off back to Legoland!”
“The World’s End” can stand as the best film in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy. It truly evokes the feeling that everything before was leading to this, and the final climax and denouement will thrill and satisfy fans and newcomers alike. Wright, Pegg, and Frost have created something special here. This is great comedy. This is great film-making. These three are the friends you wish you had growing up, and with this film you get a taste of what you missed. And it is sweet, but bitter as we say goodbye to the trilogy. It’s naive to think these friends are anywhere near finished with each other, and I’m sure many collaborations are still to come. But for now, have a drink, or twelve, and walk the golden mile with these gents one last time. Cheers.