'World's End' crawls way to hilarious apocalypse
Sci-fi movies, we all know, create unlikely heroes, and this summer's no exception.
Remember Brad Pitt as a U.N. inspector in “World War Z”? He just wanted to hang at home with his family, but he had to save the world from raging zombies. And Matt Damon in “Elysium”? He played a reformed car thief who just wanted to heal himself — and, suddenly, he needed to rescue the planet.
But Simon Pegg in “The World's End,” the latest work of brilliant inanity from director Edgar Wright, takes this whole reluctant-savior-of-humanity thing to a new plane. Twenty years after high school, Pegg's scruffy, unshaven, never-gonna-grow-up, substance-abusing Gary can't hold down a job. His idea of a relationship is a quick tryst in the loo (bathroom) of a pub. This is a guy who's gonna save us — or, at least, parts of suburban England — from an alien invasion? Lord, help us.
Of course, if you're a fan of Pegg's earlier two films with Wright, the 2004 “Shaun of the Dead” and the 2007 “Hot Fuzz,” you'll know that such plot absurdities are not only par for the course, but crucial to the delightful sensibilities of this genre-twisting oeuvre.
Wright has called this movie the last in a trilogy, and what unites the three is that each is a sendup — though a loving one — of a genre: “Shaun” is a zombie film, “Hot Fuzz” a buddy-cop movie, and “The World's End” one of those bittersweet coming-home films that shows how difficult it is to really, well, go home. Because it's never the same.
We begin with a flashback: On the last day school in 1990, five mates in the nondescript village of Newton Haven attempt the Golden Mile, an epic, 12-pub crawl. But they fall short and never make it to the final watering hole, called, fittingly, “The World's End.”
Flash-forward 20 years, and Gary, their onetime leader, has a plan: Rally the boys — “just like the Five Musketeers,” he notes — to conquer the Golden Mile once and for all.
“It's about closure,” he declares. For some reason, they all show up.
One of the film's delights is how Pegg and Nick Frost, his masterfully funny co-star in all three films, have reversed personalities since “Hot Fuzz.” Whereas, Pegg was an uptight, overachieving cop there and Frost the bumbling sidekick, now it's Pegg who's the bumbler — scruffy and unkempt, in a long black coat and dark shades, hilariously messed-up. Frost, just as hilarious, is the pudgy, very square lawyer in thick glasses and a pressed trench coat who drinks only water on a pub crawl.
The cast of the earlier films is reunited here, along with some surprises. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan round out the Musketeers. There's also Sam (a lovely Rosamund Pike) — she's the sister of one of the guys, the unconsummated crush of another and a former castoff of Gary's. Gary would love to pick up where they left off — sex in the loo — but Sam isn't keen.
But, something else happens in the loo. A belligerent Gary gets into a fight with a strong young man. He accidentally beheads the guy. Wait — he's a robot. Who bleeds blue ink. And has a lot of angry friends.
And the apocalypse is on. You can't go home, indeed. Not when it's being taken over by murderous aliens.
But you can have a laugh — and Pegg, Wright, Frost and company certainly give us that. The trilogy may be over, but we hope a new one is beginning. We need a lot more of these guys.
Jocelyn Noveck is a writer for the Associated Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Review: ‘Mistress America’ charms with slick dialogue
- Review: ‘Z for Zachariah’ offers an intense look at need for human connection
- Review: ‘Before We Go’ has a real feel
- Review: Gralton’s rebellious story told in elegant ‘Jimmy’s Hall’
- Review: ‘Transporter Refueled’ a fun ride — just don’t think too hard about it
- DVD reviews: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ ‘The D Train’ and ‘Good Kill’
- Prolific horror film writer-director Wes Craven dies at 76