a critiQal film review The World’s End (2013)

Plot: Gary King (Pegg) is an immature 40-year-old who's dying to take another stab at an epic pub-crawl that he last attempted 20 years earlier. He drags his reluctant buddies back to their hometown and sets out for a night of heavy drinking. As they make their way toward their ultimate destination - the fabled World's End pub - Gary and his friends attempt to reconcile the past and present. However, the real struggle is for the future when their journey turns into a battle for mankind.

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After watching Paul (2011) a short while ago, we were eager to see more of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost duo on-screen. That lead us to The World’s End, the finale of the so-called “Cornetto” trilogy (Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007) being the previous films). But, would the Pegg/Frost duo – again under the direction of Edgar Wright – be able to pull off comedy gold again like they did in Shaun of the Dead (2004), or were we in for more Hot Fuzz (2007) banality?

Thankfully, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have lost none of their charm on-screen in The World’s End. While they initially are estranged friends in the beginning of the film, the viewer gets to see them gradually getting back to the friendship that has always been so fun to watch. And yet, that dynamic isn’t really the main selling point of this film. Instead, the viewer gets to see both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost grow as actors. They each get to play characters that have a lot more depth and impact than the viewer initially expects, especially Simon Pegg.

After gaining momentum as an actor, it would at first seem like teaming up with Nick Frost again for The World’s End could be considered a step backward for him. Yet, he manages to bring his now much more honed acting talents with him, and delivers a strong performance as an aging rebel who can’t seem to get past his glory days. While all of his friends have moved on and become successful, he seems to be stuck in the heyday of his youth, and everything about him – from his clothes to his attitude – makes this painfully clear. It’s a much deeper role than viewers will be expecting from this comedy, and Simon Pegg delivers with a strength that really showcases how much he has grown as an actor.

And he’s not the only standout in The World’s End. His cohorts, while not quite as complex as his character, are all solidly acted as well, with everyone from Nick Frost to Eddie Marsans and Martin Freeman doing a terrific job with their roles also. In fact, while the film may go a bit to the absurd as it progresses, watching these old friends reunite later on in life is in fact the strongest part of the film, and the viewer should be able to easily relate to these characters.

Of course, once the absurdity commences, the viewer gets madcap hilarity that brings back fond memories of Shaun of the Dead (2004). Whether fighting robots with surprisingly impressive martial arts moves, or getting progressively drunker as they do so, The World’s End provides a ton of fun and surprises along it’s twisted route. Full of laugh out loud sequences and zaniness that seems to amp up with each stop on their pub crawl, the film still manages to keep the strong bond these friends from getting lost in the shuffle.

While the robot theme quickly gets out of control, and the ending is a bit of a letdown, The World’s End is still extremely fun to watch. Where Hot Fuzz (2007) was inane and Shaun of the Dead (2004) had an air of originality that couldn’t be beat, The World’s End manages to mix together elements of high hilarity and a madcap adventure with a much stronger than expected emotional impact from these characters, especially Simon Pegg. It’s a comedy that has a lot more depth than expected, and a fitting finale for this so-called “Cornetto” trilogy.

If you missed The World’s End, you owe it to yourself to give it a watch. You are going to find yourself pleasantly surprised with how darn good it actually is.

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