simon pegg

The World's End, reviewed (quickie, spoiler-free edition)

Note: while movie reviews are not a primary focus of Black Rectangle, it becomes necessary to bring certain movies to readers' attention as a means to point out films that, in some way, fit the message of Black Recangle.

"Did you mean...?"

The World's End, not to be confused with this summer's other apocalyptic buddy comedy, This Is The End is the third installment in the loose "Cornetto trilogy" of films written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. Despite the end of the world being a common theme between Seth Rogen and company's "End" and Pegg/Wright's "End" they otherwise walk very different paths.

Even Google thinks I may be confused when typing in "this is the end."

Even Google thinks I may be confused when typing in "this is the end."

World's End is also quite different from the other two Cornetto films. This is not a huge problem since the films share broad similarities (genre conventions, recurring gags, core cast, etc.)  However, people expecting the movie to launch out the gate into violence or slapstick will be disappointed.

Simon Pegg plays Gary King, a 'recovering' addict who uses the anniversary of a somewhat legendary pub crawl (perhaps only in Gary's head) to get his old gang of friends back together. Not surprisingly, Gary's friends have long since moved on and grown up. It is Gary and his addictions, not just to chemicals but to his youthful days, that drives much of the initial action.

Pegg has tremendous energy as the lead, though his character's rather crude nature reminds me more of the kinds of characters that Nick Frost has played. Frost plays the teetotaling Andy Knightly. Frost and Pegg being old chums and capable actors could easily play either side of the friend dynamic. They are the core of all of the films and their real friendship is a great engine to build any movie off of.

The real problems start to show themselves as the action starts to kick in. While movies with significant twists can be enjoyable (for example Predator or From Dusk Til Dawn), The World's End feels like two movies welded together. One film full of action and laughs and another film filled with pathos and, well, laughs. Viewers can almost hear the gears grinding as the narrative shifts.

Throughout all of the Cornetto films there is a very strong "us vs. them" component. In all of the stories the inhabitants of the setting are a direct threat to the protagonists. There is a rather novel twist in this version of that particular story element this time around and its a good thing too because the rest of the film feels as if it is on rails.

What was not predictable was the third act. The film makes a rather expected turn just before the halfway mark (if you are at all familiar with this series of films) but then in the third act things take a wonderful turn that puts this film squarely within the realm of Black Rectangle domain. It is very funny and is up there with Ghostbusters in its level of absurdity. 

Now, the rest of the film definitely isn't Ghostbusters. It's a good film with some great gags, some familiar faces and a great message at its core. For people who have seen either Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, this is worth seeing in the theater with some friends. If you've never bothered to watch those films, you may not find quite so much to love in The World's End.