Saturday, August 24, 2013

The World's End

THE WORLD'S END - Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, directed by Edgar Wright (109 min.)

Edgar Wright and Co. know how to mash up genres better than anyone around.  Their films are fanboy mixtures of horror (Shaun of the Dead), action (Hot Fuzz), and now, Science fiction in their latest collaboration, the consistently entertaining The World's End.  Wright, along with stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, have their finger on the pulse of a specific type of film.  Always rousingly funny, well shot, action-filled and - most importantly - intelligent, The World's End continues to showcase the teamwork of Pegg, Frost, and Wright, along with other regulars from films past.  If there is but one drawback to this and the other films, it is the length.  Fifteen minutes trimmed away, a little nip and tuck, would serve the picture well.  But believe me when I say that is a minor quibble to one of the more entertaining films of the summer.

Pegg is once again the star, this time around playing Gary King.  Gary has never managed to outgrow his seventeen-year old self, which is really the entire basis of the film.  "The King" as he proclaims himself, desperately wants to return to his rural England hometown to complete an epic pub crawl he and his mates never finished twenty years ago.  The only problem is, all of his buddies have grown up and become adults.  His friend Oliver (Martin Freeman) is a successful real estate salesman.  Steven (Paddy Considine) is a contractor with his own business, and a health nut, and Peter (Eddie Marsan) is junior partner at his father's car dealership.  Then of course there is Andy, Gary's closest friend from his youth played by the always fantastically funny Nick Frost.  Andy and Gary had a falling out after an accident in the nineties, and Andy is most reluctant to return home with the others and do the crawl.  We all know he has a last minute change of heart, however, and the story is off and running.

Twelve pubs make up the crawl, and the quintet shall have a pint per pub until they finally stumble into The World's End, the final pub.  In their youth they were unable to complete the journey, so it is Gary's main goal - really his only goal - in life to finish what he started so long ago.  Dressed in all black, Gary has clearly never matured beyond those teenage years, and is a constant thorn in the side of his companions along the way.  The early portions of the pub crawl focus on the funny.  The first two pubs have fallen victim to "Starbucking" as they call it, and the evidence is made clear in a great sight gag.  But we all know where this film as headed, and before long the sci-fi elements of the story work their way into the action. 

It turns out the entire town has been invaded by beings from another planet.  The premise borrows from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Village of the Damned.  Just like the previous films aped on their own genres, The World's End takes familiar sci-fi, sprinkles in some wonderful comedy, a little action, and just enough heart and emotion to keep everything relevant.  Gary must confront his failed life and move beyond his youth, and he and Andy must work out their problems from their past.  All the while they are fighting off robotic pod people whose bodies pop apart like action figures and spray blue inky blood everywhere.  The sight gags pile up on top of the witty dialogue to create a wonderful rhythmic comedy actioner. 

As of that one drawback I mentioned; the film could have been trimmed in a few places along the way.  Once the sci-fi elements take over, the proceedings lose a little steam.  But this is most certainly not enough to steal away the solid film that is The World's End.