Edgar Wright is a talented writer and director and with Simon Pegg as a co-writer of The World’s End, one would think the final film of the Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright “The Three Flavors Cornetto” trilogy could do no wrong. After a very well done first and second act, the final act is a complete breakdown of an otherwise clever and funny film. Simon Pegg is Gary King, a 40ish adult who has never grown up and still laments the final night in his hometown, in which he and his five best friends ran the table of twelve pubs on the Golden Mile; drinking ale in twelve pubs over a mile. Now, in present day, Gary, who is in what appears to be a rehab facility, still wants to go back and finish what they never did. Only problem now is the others are all grown up, mostly married with children and are career minded individuals; responsible adults. Even Andy, (Nick Frost) has given up all alcoholic beverages. Still, King looks up all of the old buddies and somehow convinces them to meet back at their home town and finish the Golden Mile. None of them still thinks very highly of Gary but for the sake of the plot they all end up in Newton Haven for the pub crawl. About halfway through a discovery is made of the town which leaves our heroes fighting for survival…..and yes, this still tries to remain a comedy, for the most part.
I loved Shaun Of The Dead and enjoyed Hot Fuzz even more and Simon Pegg has mega star written all over him. He was terrific in the first two films playing the button down, responsible adult to Nick Frost’s simpler slacker alter ego. Now, the two have flipped personas and Gary is the mess and Andy (Frost) is the responsible one. Pegg was born to play Gary and I mean that in the best possible sense, too. Gary is a mess. Disheveled and unkempt, he has made a life of nothing but living to excess. Overindulged in drugs, alcohol and sex, King is still 18 at heart. He is vulgar, insensitive, selfishly narcissistic but determined that THIS night will be the best damn night EVER, or at least die trying. Dressed all in black and adorned with enough jewelry to start a pawn shop, Pegg nails it as Gary and should be considered for an Oscar. He starts the film out with some history behind he and his mates at a support group meeting and from there on Pegg is in full offence mode. Nothing is sacred and everything is fair game. Pegg chews up scene after scene, spitting, spewing and guzzling enough ale to sideline a horse as well as waxing on about how this is the life. He induces most of the laughs in TWE, but to be fair the rest of the cast in addition to Pegg and Frost, are terrific as well and the casting is PERFECT. You have Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman (both in at least one or both of the previously mention films of this trilogy) with Eddie Marsan and the positively gorgeous Rosamund Pike as Freemam’s sister. They are all excellent and have some very funny lines as well. Where the film goes wrong is in the third act.
The film’s third act is not a question of the subject matter, rather how is was handled. The film loses a lot of the humor and settles into another chase picture churned out from the assembly line of predictable films institute. What started out as a refreshing and observant comedy about boys becoming men and life’s responsibility turns out to be a breakdown of ideas and the final few scenes are so poorly done I was kind of angry. Angry that so much had been done right that to squander the end with bad writing and poor direction was really a buzz kill. Still, TWE has a great first two acts and Steven Price’s score (hot off of composing the score to Gravity) are raucous fun. Is TWE worth watching; yes and no. I suppose there is enough here to garner a single viewing, but I have watched Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz numerous times and enjoy them every time. They are both THAT well written, directed and acted. TWE is maybe worth one and then done, as they say. The World’s End will only make you want to re-watch the first two with fond regards.
The World’s End-**1/2 out of 4