Year of Release: 2013 Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike.
One of the strongest and funniest aspects of The World’s End is the way that it blends genres. The film starts out as a buddy comedy and then becomes a science fiction/horror film and then an apocalyptic thriller as well. No genre is ever abandoned, rather each one is maintained and blended with the others as the film takes increasingly absurd turns.
The film opens with Gary King (Simon Pegg) in an alcoholics anonymous meeting recounting the “best night of his life.” After graduating from college, he and his four buddies attempted the golden mile in their home village Newton Haven. The golden mile is when in one evening, they would each drink one pint of beer at each one of the twelve bars, beginning at The First Post and ending at the famed World’s End.
They didn’t make it. After nine pubs and nine pints of beer as well as several shots all five of them were completely wasted and collapsed unconscious in a nearby park. Nearly twenty years later, Gary is living at a sobriety clinic and the other four have gotten prestigious jobs. However, recollecting that night reminds him of his dream and ambition, and he decides there is no time like the present to attempt the golden mile again. With carefully calculated lies and manipulations, Gary manages to talk all four of his former friends into joining him on his quest.
A large percentage of the film’s humor is derived from Gary’s narcissism as his selfishness and his alcoholism continually create more and more outlandish and dangerous situations for himself and his buddies. The terrific chemistry between all five of the men heightens the absurdity of each situation. Gary is so caught up with himself that he has never matured over the past twenty years. Consequently, he has no awareness of common expressions, which is underscored by an hilarious if vulgar exchange. Gary also obsessed over his one night stand with Samantha (Rosamund Pike), which he finally moves on from in one of the funniest Casablanca parodies I have ever seen. Another funny scene pays tribute to Star Wars as Gary attempts to become an action hero.
Once the five friends arrive in Newton Haven, it becomes clear that the town is different than it was twenty years ago. Gary insists that they are the same and it is the town that has changed, while the other four try to tell him that they have matured and thus a town known solely for its pubs seems different. It is obvious that Gary has not matured, and as Andy (Nick Cross) begrudgingly says, Gary is never wrong. Humorously playing on that repeated line, The World’s End becomes a parody of classic science fiction and horror films as the friends try to discover what is wrong with the town.
Gary’s basic personality never changes; he desires to have a good time and be the king among his friends. In the end Gary’s free will and right to live as an alcoholic screw-up is affirmed, yet the film also shows the shallowness and selfishness of this lifestyle as well as some of the dramatic consequences.
It is a well established fact that British humor is hilarious. The World’s End does not fail to deliver many laughs as five friends participate in a Friday night of drinking that will have the most surprising, lengthy, and memorable Monday morning.
Content Advisory: Recurring crass and obscene language, some profanity, several sexual references, fleeting rear nudity, much comic action violence, a drug reference, and frequent drinking and inebriation. MPAA rating: R
Suggested Audience: Adults
Overall Recommendation: A