Friday, August 23, 2013
Now playing at a theater near you:
THE WORLD'S END (Dir. Edgar Wright, 2013)
The third installment in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy is finally here and it's fuckin' fantastic!
For those who don't know, the series, which includes the 2004 zombie rom com SHAWN OF THE DEAD, and the 2007 action movie satire HOT FUZZ is called such because of a connection to the Cornetto ice cream brand that appears in each film.
At first glance, this new entry may look a lot like a British version of this summer's THIS IS THE END, the raunchy apocalyptic Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg comedy.
But here, the cast, made up of Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Constadine, Martin Freeman, and Eddie Marsan, aren't playing themselves (that is, exaggerated caricatures of their personas), and the backdrop isn't that of Biblical rapture; it's an alien invasion that the blokes uncover while on a pub crawl in their home town of Newton Haven, England.
Pegg, as a 40something n'er-do-well alcoholic who never grew up (he still wears the same Sisters of Mercy t-shirt and black trenchcoat he wore as a teenager), rounds up his old gang to again attempt the “Gold Mile” crawl of 12 pubs that they never completed two decades ago.
Pegg's former pals have all moved on into responsible adulthood and roll their eyes at the idea, yet they still join in, mainly because Pegg plays the sympathy card of his mother's recent passing.
Many pints are consumed by the group, except by the teetotaling Frost who orders water to Pegg's chagrin (“A man of your legendary prowess drinking fucking rain! It's like a lion eating Hummus.”), as they make their way from pub to pub, but they find that Thomas Wolfe was right about not being able to go home again.
Pub culture has been devoured by chains making the establishments all look alike, the aging bartenders don't recognize “the return of the prodigal sons” (as Pegg puts it), and, oh yeah, it appears that many of the townfolk have been replaced with robots.
Another similarity to THIS IS THE END is that THE WORLD'S END (the title comes from the name of the last pub on the crawl) is crammed with killer comedy.
Ultra comical fight scenes, rapid fire one-liners, and sight gags all hit their marks, while the characters' individual dilemmas - Constadine pines for Freeman's sister Rosamund Pike, Frost reveals his wife has left him, Marsan deals with running into a former schoolmate who bullied him, while Pegg is only concerned with partying (no matter what danger surrounds the fellows, Pegg's always pouring himself another pint) - don't get short shrift in the mist of all the silly sci-fi-tinged chaos.
The second in the trilogy, HOT FUZZ, had a juicy extended cameo by former 007 Timothy Dalton, but this tops it by having a better known Bond on hand: Pierce Brosnan as the band of blokes' former professor.
I love how the film never let ups or drags. Director Wright and lead protagonist Pegg, who co-wrote the screenplay as they did for SHAWN and HOT FUZZ, provide an infectious energy, which the rest of the ensemble is entirely up to the task of. It had everything I wanted from it: tons of solid laughs, likable relatable characters, and satisfying story beats all wrapped up together in a package that's as witty as it is rowdy.
THE WORLD'S END is a fitting, funny as Hell, end to a what will surely come to be known as a classic comedy trilogy. A pint and a cone of Cornetto ice cream would be ideal to consume while viewing it for sure, but the movie is incredibly filling all by itself.