The World's End
by M. Faust
As the final film in what creators Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have dubbed the “Cornetto Trilogy,” following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, The World’s End will put certain expectations in the minds of Pegg and Wright’s fans. That they have asked reviewers not to give away a surprising turn of plot in the film is rather disingenuous, as that is the point at which the movie turns into what fans will be expecting to see.
For the first 40 minutes of the film, The World’s End features none of the genre-bending stuff of the previous films. Instead it concentrates on 40-ish Gary (Pegg) and his attempts to recruit his four old school chums (Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine) for a weekend. He wants to recreate a pub crawl that went unfinished on their last night of school: one pint at each of a dozen bars in their hometown. But while his friends have moved on with their lives, and away from him, Gary’s life has been all downhill since that legendary (in his mind) night.
This setup is familiar and neither terribly funny nor dramatically engaging. Gary is alternately obnoxious and pathetic in his self-mythologizing, we can’t understand why his former friends even agreed to this trip, and we’re looking forward to little aside from a boilerplate drama about lost lives.
That’s when the stuff you came for starts to happen. You know, the stuff the special effects guys were hired for.
Last week in these pages, my colleague George Sax gave a generally negative review of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, noting along the way that the film has otherwise been getting very positive reviews from the nation’s critics and moviegoers. I am unfortunately now in that same position of wondering what it is the rest of the world sees in The World’s End that I did not.
I stand even further afield on this one: The World’s End is getting more consistently rapturous reviews than any film this year besides Fruitvale Station or Before Midnight.
Beginning with their television series Spaced, Pegg and Wright have built careers out of playing to a nostalgia for the fantastical stuff of their childhoods, beginning with Star Trek and extending through all the usual fanboy touchstones. That they play this off of the rather drabber lives of the adults they have become is laudable. But their films always end up becoming the very thing they are ostensibly parodying—having their cake and eating it too.
Their fans see this as reality and fantasy illuminating each other. To me, it’s just doing two different things not very well. But don’t let me stop you: All indications are that if you have any interest in seeing it in the first place, you will consider your ticket dollar well spent.
Watch the trailer for The World's End
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