The final film in the Cornetto Trilogy, The World's End doesn't succeed on anywhere near the level of Shaun of the Dead but in all likelihood most fans of director and co-writer Edgar Wright along with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are likely to find it on par with the second film in the trilogy, Hot Fuzz, though for my own taste it's a lesser entry and a mildly disappointing end to a trilogy that began with such spark, wit and originality.
It's not that The World's End isn't original. Wright and his cast and crew continue to practice their genre-bending ways with heart, humor and enough originality to put most of Hollywood's paint-by-number comedies to shame. It's just that with The World's End, it at times feels like Focus Features has tied their hands a bit and the finished product feels a little more restrained, a little less funny, a good 15-20 minutes too long, and in place of the usual childlike banter and silliness we get far too many scenes that border on mean-spirited.
The World's End is still funny, but not AS funny. The World's End is still possessing of snappy dialogue, but LESS snappy. While the film still doesn't feel like anything else that Hollywood's put out this year, it's the first time in the trilogy that I sat there thinking about their other films or, even worse, other films entirely.
The film opens with a flashback of five snappy lads with a rebellious spirit and a dedication to the drink. It's the summer of 1990 and the five lads in Newton Haven embark on a night of debauchery along the town's infamous Golden Mile, a mile filled with 12 pubs ended by the even more infamous The World's End. Their night is filled with the joys of youth including an abundance of alcohol, women, fights and more but when it comes down to it they fail in their attempt to swig a pint at each pub and never make it to The World's End. Flash forward 20 years and Steven (Paddy Considine), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman), and Andy (Nick Frost) have grown into their mature adult lives with varying degrees of successful jobs, marriages, ex-marriages, children and all the other chains that bind us as we get older. On the flip side, Gary (Simon Pegg). Gary is pretty much the same chap he was in school while still driving the same car, wearing the same clothes, and drinking as much as he ever did. Triggered by a mixture of self-realization and self-loathing, Gary, who was known as "The King" in school, gathers his former best friends through a combination of manipulation and emotional appeal for one last go at the Golden Mile.
What exists for nearly the first hour of its nearly two hour running time as almost a coming-of-age story for 40-year-olds suddenly spirals into an entirely different direction once the pub crawl begins and the quintet begins to reveal their conflicts while imbibing an increasing amount of alcohol. Along the way, Oliver's sister (Rosamund Pike) enters the picture and plays quite a bit more than your usual female distraction. It would be a bit of a crime to go into too much detail as to what to expect from The World's End, but suffice it to say that Wright and Pegg have penned yet another genre-bending motion picture that isn't afraid to laugh at silliness, languish in life's disappointments, and venture off into the land of universal questions and major life lessons.
If you despised Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, it's difficult to imagine that you'll find much to love here but if you fancy yourself a regular fan of this trilogy and the other work of any of the major players then there's a pretty good chance you'll find more than enough to like to make this film worth your while.
If there's anything that's a tad disappointing with how The World's End transpires, it's that the film is for the most part devoid of the edginess and off-kilter nature of its predecessors and has too many scenes that don't quite fire on all cylinders despite Wright's seeming determination to keep the goings on as silly as humanly possible.
The World's End seems to be at least partially committed to the idea that living in the past is a surefire recipe to screw up the present and future, but it also feels like everyone working on the project had a certain sentimentality about this final film in the trilogy that contradicts such an idea. Likewise, The World's End simply spends more time feeling uneven than off-kilter.
There's a difference. Trust me.
The World's End isn't a bad film but it is a film that more affirms the readiness of this trilogy to end rather than affirming the triology's place in cinematic comedy history. It's a good film, but it's also a flawed film that benefits greatly from the undeniable chemistry between Pegg and Frost and their ability to be completely in sync with the artistic vision of director Edgar Wright.
While The World's End is a tad disappointing, a tad disappointing film from this bunch is still one of the better comedies in summer 2013.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic