There’s a lot of talk in the publicity about this being part of trilogy of films by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost but this film is as different from the previous two films as Hot Fuzz was from Shaun of the Dead. It shares with them the idea of taking a genre film plot and setting it in England with characters more familiar from comedies. This time it’s the alien invasion Sci-Fi genre that gets the treatment and the film does a good job delivering authentic a science fiction action film with their trademark irreverent humour.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) is a man whose life peaked as a teenager and its been downhill ever since He ropes in his old school buddies to relive what he remembers as the best night of his life: a pub crawl around twelve pubs starting with The First Post and finishing with The World’s End. We get introduced to the four others completely from Gary’s perspective as teenagers so Oliver (Martin Freeman) is nicknamed Oman because of a birthmark on his forehead, Peter (Eddie Marsan) is alright because his family are wealthy and Steven (Paddy Considine) is the rival ladies’ man. Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) was Gary’s best friend and wing man. A sixth person mentioned is Sam (Rosamund Pike) Oliver’s sister that Gary once had sex with in the disabled toilet of a pub.
All Gary’s friends have gone on to be adults with jobs, wives and children and they are not really that interested in a pub crawl round the town they all left far behind with a desperate loser who has not emotionally grown since their school-days. Their memories of Gary and that night are not as warm as Gary’s so he has to manipulate each of them into joining him out of pity
When they arrive back at their hometown the place is cold and indifferent to them and there’s certainly no warm welcome. They check into a hotel (run by Julie Deakin who played the landlady in Spaced, an early TV collaboration of Pegg, Frost and Wright). Then the pub crawl starts at The First Post which has had a corporate makeover that the friends refer to as being Starbucksed (though Wetherspooned might have been more accurate). Gary gives them an enthusiastic historical introduction to the pub and seems to expect the barman to remember him which he doesn’t. Gary orders five pints but Andy interrupts and says he wants water. This really upsets Gary but Andy doesn’t care about pleasing Gary and hints that Gary is reason he only drinks water now.
The next stop The Old Familiar is identical to the first pub even down the customers but has a different barman who still doesn’t recognise Gary. In the third pub Gary gets the instant recognition he wants but that’s because his photo is pinned to a wall of shame full of customers who have been barred for life.
At the fourth pub The Cross Hands Gary picks a fight with a teenager in the toilet whose only offence was to ignore Gary bragging about how cool he used to be. He finds out the young man is not in human but some sort of modular android and destroys it. Andy and the others come into the toilet to talk about one the nastier lies he told to get them there. Soon they are battling a gang of teenage androids. They realise that have no idea how many people have been replaced by androids and the sensible plan is to leave immediately but Gary talks them into carrying on with pub crawl to avoid alerting the other androids that they know about them. Andy downs four shots to catch up and get drunk enough to go along with Gary’s stupid plan.
As they go on they discover the aliens’ plan but Gary drives them on to finish the pub crawl because that really is more important to him than the end of the world. Simon Pegg’s character is definitely not a hero in this film and he drives the story forward by his misguided quest. A lot of the comedy comes from his immature behaviour and the way he drags his straight-laced friends along for the ride. The film starts slowly building a very realistic character dynamic before it shifts up a few gears into a high action finale.
The casting includes familiar faces that have worked with Pegg, Frost and Wright before such as Mark Heap, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith and Darren Boyd. There’s also a very well-known actor who hasn’t been credited who has a small but important role in the story. The cast are just great and there’s naturalness to their interactions.
Like other films by Wright, Pegg and Frost this film is influenced by the films they have loved, in this case it’s science fiction films and the broad theme certainly owes a lot to Invasion of Bodysnatchers (the 70s remake rather than the original). I’ll have some fun spotting them when the film comes to Bluray. There’s a running gag that they can’t agree what to call the androids who are bit touchy about being called robots and they eventually end up calling them blanks
This film might not be quite as funny as Shaun of The Dead or Hot Fuzz but it still has more laughs than many other comedies and there’s a real depth to characters. The theme of the film is the battle for individual freedom with all its flaws against compromising and conforming but it’s done with the wit you’d expect from these writers.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- The World’s End – Review (elliotreviewsstuff.wordpress.com)
- The Cornetto Trilogy – Mint Flavour – The Worlds End (2013) (dannifilm.wordpress.com)