If writer/director Edgar Wright’s trio of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End does constitute a legitimate trilogy, then it has to
be the best the comedy genre has ever seen.
The so-called Cornetto trilogy may only be connected through its cast and crew, but what a remarkable achievement it is nonetheless.
The World’s End caps it off in glorious fashion, matching its predecessors in hilarity while bettering them in drama, poignancy and genuine
While the film delivers the same silly, off-the-wall humor this collaboration excels at, it also exhibits intelligence and self-awareness rarely
seen in even the best comedies.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost once again headline the cast, and they are spectacular as always.
Pegg leads as Gary King, a man in perpetually arrested development who vows to relive his high school glory days by finishing a pub crawl
him and his friends were never able to complete.
All of King’s friends have moved on to adulthood with wives, children and careers. He lies, manipulates and steals to coax them all back to
their childhood home to complete their quest.
His overwhelming nostalgia is so all-encompassing that he appears to be oblivious to the last two decades, an attribute the film exploits for
a number of great gags.
These themes of the perils of living in the past and the fear of moving on reverberate throughout the entire film and there are metaphors
abound even when the film goes off the walls in its second half.
These are themes that have been present in Wright/Pegg/Frost collaborations dating all the way back to their brilliant British TV series,
Spaced. This time, however, the perspective is a bit different as everyone involved approaches middle age. Perhaps as a result, The
World’s End has an understated maturity about it in spite of its rampant silliness.
There are a few truly exceptional scenes that have real emotional weight. The characters all have to face their pasts and their still
unhealed wounds and bittersweet nostalgia is handled with surprisingly personal writing and heartfelt performances.
Pegg’s King gets to do much of the heavy lifting in this regard, but even the supporting players are handled with care. There is a great bit
where Eddie Marsan’s character remembers a bully from school that is one of our first hints that The World’s End is much more than a
simple drinking film.
The relationship and history between Pegg and Frost’s characters leads to some really excellent stuff later on without ever becoming
forced or sappy.
Pegg is absolutely outstanding in particular. He is supremely funny and the film allows for just enough drama and character to make this
perhaps his best performance yet. There are so many moments in which he lifts this film onto his shoulders with infectious energy, perfect
comic delivery and hilarious facial expressions.
Even more impressive is that he stands out even among an extraordinary cast.
Frost, Marsan, Martin Freeman, and Paddy Considine are all phenomenal as King’s crew and every one of them get well-established
characters, all receiving great material to work with. Even smaller roles for Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan and Bill Nighy are very
The screenplay by Wright and Pegg perfectly balances all these characters and is consistently hilarious from beginning to end.
And where this film ends up is the other great triumph of The World’s End. What begins as a comedy about five friends out drinking
becomes something entirely unexpected.
Without spoiling, there is an abrupt shift in genre that is not foreshadowed at all. And although shocking and bizarre, it is handling
brilliantly by Wright and the ensuing chaos is absolutely outstanding.
This unexpected twist (along with several more afterwards) makes The World’s End not just outrageously funny, but totally unconventional
I had no idea where this film was going and anyone who says they did is probably lying. It’s unfortunate the trailers showed as much as they
did, because without seeing them the film would be almost startling.
The talent of Wright really cannot be understated; he shows a perfect balance of humor, humanization and ridiculously awesome action
There is an incredible fight inside a men’s bathroom to kick off the insanity and the highlight may be a brawl later on that finds Pegg trying
to finish off a pint while fending off a horde of attackers.
Even outside of these superbly choreographed and filmed scenes, Wright manages to instill a visual energy into even the most
And even as the film dives headlong into craziness, it never loses its head. The film maintains its intelligence throughout, never forgetting
its characters or themes.
Clever elements such as the ironic relevance of each pub’s name weren’t lost on me. This level of detail speaks to the talent of these
filmmakers as well as the pride and effort that went into this entire production.
Despite its increasingly outlandish plot twists, The World’s End never implodes and even becomes more thrilling as it goes. A climactic
scene where the mystery behind their hometown is fully disclosed (By the wonderful voice of Nighy) is one of the film’s best. The final
resignation of the town’s inhabitants in the face of our gang’s belligerent resistance is absolutely priceless.
I’m not sure if the final scenes dealing with the story’s aftermath are quite up to the rest, but once again, they are totally ridiculous and the
film remains unconventional to its very last frames. I just can’t hold them against it.
Even so, it would be a minor quibble and the conclusion is still absolutely satisfying.
The World’s End is uproariously funny, surprisingly heartfelt and unexpectedly thrilling. It is a masterful blend of genres; written, directed
and performed with intelligence and overwhelming enthusiasm.
Up until typing this, I had thought of giving The World’s End three-and-a-half stars. Now I find myself (As Gary King did on that fateful night
in the final days of his childhood) realizing that it won’t get any better than this.
* * * *
(out of four)
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine,
Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Music by: Steven Price
Cinematography by: Bill Pope
Released: August 23, 2013; 109 Minutes