Gary King (Simon Pegg) and his mates, Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Andy (Nick Frost) and Steven (Paddy Considine), were quite the rabble-rousers in their day. On their last day of high school, the Five Musketeers decided they would attempt “The Golden Mile.” The golden mile is an area in the center of Newton Haven, their hometown, that contained twelve pubs. The challenge is to visit each of the pubs, drinking a pint in each, ending at the final pub, The World’s End. Losing their mates along the way, the team did not complete The Golden Mile. They had a great night. Life was good.
It is now twenty years later. Most of the guys have grown up and become responsible members of society. Gary has not. He never got past the drinking and drugs. The Five Musketeers don’t hang out like they used to. It seems they rarely talk to each other.
Lamenting his life, Gary decides to get the gang together to finally complete The Golden Mile. Gary persuades the reluctant group to travel back to Newton Haven for one last hurrah. Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike) meets up with the group while in town to have lunch with some old friends.
While on their quest, Gary and his friends notice that the town hasn’t changed much. Yet, something is very different. Completing the challenge becomes an experience they will never forget.
The World’s End is the final installment of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Cornetto Trilogy (including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), named because a flavor of Cornetto Ice Cream appears in each of the films. There are several “trademarks” and stylistic elements that pervade the series. Fans will recognize many subtle ties to the other films, including some sort of tie to James Bond, this time Pierce Brosnan makes an appearance. (Full disclosure: I have not seen either of the other films in the trilogy. I was keyed into some of the nuances of the series by some expert friends.)
The movie starts off a bit slow. I’m told the others have a similar feel, giving you time to get to know the characters. My initial thought was if this is how all the Cornetto movies are, I don’t understand the appeal. It’s not until a half hour or so into the movie that you get to the real action and things get interesting. And entertaining.
It’s British humor. Which means it won’t appeal to everyone. Some will indeed find it sophomoric and inane. If you are not into British humor, or Simon Pegg, then you won’t get much from this film. For those of you who can appreciate what the Brits do, you’re in for a good time. Luckily, even if you haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, you can enjoy The World’s End without missing anything other than Simon and Edgar’s signature on the film.
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright penned a fun, ridiculous script. Similar stories have been told. I’m not going to tell you which ones. I don’t want to give any of the plot away. This is a movie to go into uninformed, if possible. Knowing what happens at The World’s End steals some of the fun of the film. I will simply say if M. Night Shyamalan wrote comedies, and could still pull off a decent film (see After Earth. On second thought, don’t see it), The World’s End is what he would write.
If this were any other movie, I would write it off as a flop simply for the ending. It’s a bit abrupt and would normally be unsatisfying. A cop-out. However, with the tone and feel of the rest of the film, it just works.
The question, as always, is this film worth seeing? Since my wife missed the screening, attending a separate one full of shirtless boys in a theater of screaming tweens, I will most likely be seeing it for a second time. And I won’t mind doing so. Knowing what happens, it will be a slightly different film the second go around. And I plan to watch the rest of the trilogy before I go again.