Photo courtesy of fearnet.com
When the creative brain trust behind the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” set out to make a film series, they had one main goal in mind: to make three hilarious homages to three disreputable genres of film. Having already successfully spoofed the zombie movie with Shaun of the Dead and the action movie with Hot Fuzz, The World’s End strives to cap off the acclaimed series by taking on the apocalyptic movie.
The films have proven far more than homages. Removed from their satire, parody and winking acknowledgments to the films they are indebted to, the pieces stand on their own as solid character-based comedies with a penchant for absurdism and gleeful over-the-topness.
In The World’s End, Simon Pegg plays Gary King, the type of guy who peaked in high school and now has nothing better to do but to revisit his glory days. The character would be smarmy and pathetic if it weren’t for how much charm and humor Pegg brings to the role and how much woundedness Edgar Wright (who also directs) and Pegg’s script provide. King is an alcoholic whose best day, retold at an AA meeting, was the night of an epic pub crawl called the Golden Mile, an alcoholic marathon that would put College Hill’s best to shame.
Years have passed since that night and King has fallen out of touch with his high school pals, who have all moved on and become mature, upstanding adults. King’s disease and self-loathing cause him to seek out his childhood friends (Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine) who he convinces through a good deal of lying and desperation to reattempt the pub crawl.
King’s friends have all grown bitter and resentful of the guy who at one time they would have followed into the very heart of a sci-fi apocalypse. King expects everyone in their hometown of Newton Haven will remember his exploits but no one even pays him the slightest bit of attention.
Like the ice cream brand the film series takes its name from, The World’s End is quite pleasurable and fun. It might seem like all that seriousness about broken friendships and agonizing regrets would be a downer but, like a good lager, Wright and Pegg make the weighty themes go down easy with a constant reserve of wry, cheeky British humor and some giddy action sequences. It is a film that seems interested in attempting to get you to laugh at every possible opportunity.
This is especially true as the film suddenly, abruptly shifts gears and focuses more on the genre it is exploiting. I won’t get into the specifics of the sci-fi the film pays tribute to, as it’s far more entertaining to go in cold. It is inventive, outlandish and, at points, hysterical.
Some may be asking where this film stands in terms of the trilogy, but that misses the point. Each film does what it is attempting effectively and joyously. Wright, Pegg, and Frost, clearly love the films they are paying tribute to and they want to repay that love. They succeed, consistently as ever, in gut busting spades.