The World's End

Gary King (Simon Pegg) has fond memories of his time in school with his best mates Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan).  On their last day of school, the group took on the challenge of completing the Golden Mile:  A pub crawl through their town of Newton Haven, England encompassing 12 pubs and ending at The World’s End.  They didn’t make it as a couple of them dropped out after a few pubs and the rest just couldn’t drink any more.  More than 20 years later, Andy, Steven, Oliver and Peter have married, started businesses or are well-established in their careers.  Gary is largely unchanged from his wild, hard living ways.  Gary decides to get the crew back together to take another stab at the Golden Mile.  Approaching each member of the group, Gary claims everyone is on board for the effort, even before actually talking to the whole crew.  Somehow, he’s able to convince all of them to return to their home town and take the challenge once again.  No one in Newton Haven seems to remember the gang but that doesn’t stop Gary who intends on completing his task.  At the fourth pub, the Cross Hands, Gary gets in a fight with a local teen in the men’s room.  During the struggle, Gary knocks the boy’s head off and discovers he’s a robot.  The rest of Gary’s friends enter the restroom to confront him about lying about his mother dying when the robot boy’s four friends also enter and a massive fight ensues.  Gary and the gang are able to defeat all the robots but wonder what their next move should be.  Are all the townspeople robots?  If they try to leave town will they be attacked?  What about Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike) who met up with the boys earlier and is unaware of what’s happening?  Gary convinces the boys that they should continue the pub crawl since he has made such a big deal about it everywhere they’ve gone.  Running away now will tip off the locals they know something is going on.  The further they go along the Golden Mile, the more interactions and conflicts they have with the robots.  They also begin clearing up some old conflicts from their time as students.  There are hurt feelings, betrayals, bullying, unrequited love and abandonment issues that surface as the five friends struggle through the night with Gary dead set on reaching The World’s End.
 
“The World’s End” is more than just a drinking buddy comedy.  It takes a surprisingly sharp look at friendship, maturity and lost dreams.  For a comedy, that’s a bit of a shock.  Of course, all this serious stuff is wrapped up in a blanket of evil robots, fights, witty banter and enough alcohol to float a battleship.  It’s also very British which may leave some people scratching their heads in confusion.
 
“The World’s End” is the third film in what’s called the Cornetto Trilogy.  The name comes from a British brand of ice cream that has flavors featured in each of the movies “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End.”  What connects the films much more than ice cream is the creative team behind all three movies.  Director Edgar Wright, actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and writers Wright and Pegg have been behind all three.  While the trilogy is unconnected from a story aspect, there is certainly a very similar feeling and style.  There are also familiar faces in all three movies with actors such as Martin Freeman (“The Hobbit,” “Sherlock”) and Bill Nighy (the second and third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, the “Underworld” series) playing some kind of role in each film.  All of this camaraderie and familiarity aside, “The World’s End” is a fun film.
 
You’ll need to pay close attention in some sections of the movie as the dialog is delivered in rapid bursts.  Much of the fastest talking is done to great comedic effect by the five primary actors.  Pegg, Frost, Considine, Freeman and Marsan rattle off quick steams of puns, insults and general silliness that require expert timing and a nimble tongue.  I’m certain some of these passages required several takes to get right and I hope the DVD has some outtakes showing the verbal disasters that must have occurred.  Unfortunately, some of this dialog is delivered SO quickly it will go right by the audience without registering in the giggle section of your brain.  That’s ok since another funny bit is probably not far away.
 
There is also a great deal of action as our heroes face off in battle against a town full of robots.  Sadly, the action is often shown in very tight close-up and with a very active camera.  All the shaking and the camera’s proximity mean it is often very difficult to figure out what’s going on.  Fortunately when a robot has a limb ripped off or its head shattered into several pieces there is a large amount of blue fluid that splatters and spurts letting the audience know the machine has been dealt some damage.
 
The story takes a little while to get really cranked up as we are introduced to each character and see the somewhat strained interaction between the five of them.  All this set up is paid off in the end as we are let in on some secrets and twists that explain a great deal about the characters; especially Pegg’s and Frost’s.
 
The acting in “The World’s End” is rather subtle and low key.  This is a British film after all.  The major exception to this is Pegg as Gary is turned up to 11 from the very beginning and only comes down briefly when a secret is revealed near the end.  The rest of the cast, with a few brief bursts of energy, keeps it reigned in for most of the film.  The contrast between Pegg’s manic energy and the rest of the cast’s slow burn adds to the humor and to some of the film’s more emotional moments.  I have to commend Wright and Pegg for writing a comedic script that doesn’t mind taking a serious turn on occasion.  The best comedies have those moments where the characters come to a realization or make a discovery that puts all the previous silliness into perspective.  These characters have been carrying around some serious pain that hasn’t softened in the two or so decades since their last meeting.  It’s a shame people in the real world can’t work out their issues in the running time of a movie.
 
“The World’s End” is rated R for sexual references and pervasive language.  Sexually references range from mild to very crude.  There is also a brief shot of a man’s bare backside.  Foul language is common with even a “C-Bomb” being dropped.  The British view that word very differently across the pond.
 
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (yes, I meant to say that), “The World’s End” is an entertaining bit of British fluff that get surprisingly serious without getting in the way of the laughs.  Sometimes the language and delivery get in the way of the laughs but this happens infrequently enough so it isn’t too annoying.  Also, if you’ve seen “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” it doesn’t make much sense not to round out the trilogy.
 
“The World’s End” gets four guitars out of five.
 
Serious, emotional drama and teenybopper boy bands:  This week’s movies run the gamut and the next film I review is entirely in your hands.
 
Blue Jasmine—After a broken marriage and a move across the country to live with her sister, Jasmine is faced with starting over but lacks job skills and is teetering on an emotional breakdown.  In other words, it’s the new Woody Allen movie.
 
Closed Circuit—Lawyers and former lovers are on opposite sides of a criminal case involving terrorism.  A conspiracy discovered by one of them could wind up getting both of them killed.
 
Getaway—Though he used to race cars for a living, Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is now pitted against the clock in the most important race of his life; an unseen criminal (Jon Voight) has kidnapped Brent's wife, and to get her back, he must follow the man's instructions to the letter.
 
One Direction:  This is Us— Groomed for stardom by "X-Factor's" Simon Cowell, the members of pop supergroup One Direction have emerged as a worldwide phenomenon. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock follows the young singers on their 2012-2013 world tour and mixes live concert footage with behind-the-scenes interviews and antics.
 
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently in theatres or On Demand.
 
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
 
Questions or comments are welcome at stanthemovieman@att.net.  Follow Stan on Twitter @moviemanstan.