It’s long overdue, but Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director, Edgar Wright are finally concluding their unofficial ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ of genre comedies with The World’s End. Why the ice cream motif exists in the first place, I don’t know, but hey, they’re great movies, so who’s complaining?!
With 2004’s Shaun of the Dead being the red strawberry flavouring and 2007’s Hot Fuzz being the blue vanilla flavouring, The World’s End is left to be the green peppermint flavouring in the metaphorical ice cream concoction. Just as Shaun of the Dead’s red signified zombies and gore, and Hot Fuzz’s blue signified the police and the action genre, The World’s End is left to represent green, or extra-terrestrial sci-fi.
Of course, you wouldn’t know that this is a sci-fi comedy at first glance, at least, if you haven’t seen the trailers. The World’s End begins as a seemingly predictable British comedy about perpetual adolescence and the desire to re-live one’s glory days. The entire first act operates under the notion of five childhood friends, now middle-aged adults, reuniting after many years estranged to try and complete the small town pub crawl they failed to see all the way through upon graduating from university.
Of course, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the key players here. One interesting switch however is that Pegg is now the oafish idiot to Frost’s straight man. In the previous two movies, the roles were reversed, with Pegg being the straight man while Frost anchored most of the jokes with his dim-witted character. The switch is nicely refreshing if I’m being honest, and it proves that Frost ultimately isn’t playing second fiddle to Pegg, since he does a fine job playing a more serious and rounded character this time about.
Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan round out the cast, all recognizable names to fans of British movies. Like Frost, they’re more grounded characters, left to feed off of Pegg’s comedic energy in the lead role of direction-less alcoholic, Gary King, but they do manage a few funny moments, as well as some surprising moments of heart and drama. As surreal as The World’s End is, its cast helps to keep the movie grounded, and manages to avoid making the plot too silly to be worth investing in.
Rosamund Pike also adds an appreciated female presence to what is otherwise a boys’ club, playing the sister to Martin Freeman’s character, and a former fling of Pegg’s. Again, she leaves Pegg to anchor most of the jokes, and isn’t given as much to do as the men in most cases, especially since she disappears for a while when the plot makes its turn.
And what a turn it is! By the halfway mark or so, The World’s End changes gears completely, specifically when the leads realize that their childhood hamlet has been entirely taken over by robots. Yes, seriously. As a result, they then have to try and keep up their pub crawl, trying to blend in and pretend that nothing is wrong, which, needless to say, does not go completely smoothly.
Director, Wright’s experience with the flashy and action-filled Scott Pilgrim vs. The World serves him very well here, since the same kind of stylish, yet undeniably amusing action scenes are present throughout much of this movie. In fact, the production value behind The World’s End feels like a step up from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz in general, with the latter two feeling like ambitious independent movies compared to the more actively studio-friendly The World’s End.
Of course, even though this is more evidently a studio-friendly feature film than its two predecessors, that’s not to say that Pegg, Frost and Wright have ‘gone Hollywood’, and tried to Americanize the movie. If you enjoyed the British elements of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, you’ll be happy to see that The World’s End keeps them very well intact. This is still a very British movie, in terms of the set work, the dialogue and especially the comedy, though one that’s still funny and well-conceived enough to be enjoyed just as easily by moviegoing audiences outside of the U.K.
The only time that the movie sort of careens off the rails is in its final moments, which feel like they take the joke a bit too far, losing the grounded credibility that the rest of the movie worked so hard to achieve. Still, you can’t claim that The World’s End doesn’t end on a memorable note, I suppose!
While it falls just shy of the high comedic bar set by the similarly-titled This is the End from June, The World’s End comes in a very close second for the Summer’s funniest comedy, I have to say! You have to have a taste for British humour and surreal plotting to get the most out of the movie, but if you’re looking for something that is very creative, very memorable and very amusing, without completely sacrificing a sense of grounded intelligence behind its humour, then this is a fashionably late Summer offering that you should definitely check out!
As for how the movie stacks up with its two predecessors, I suppose that it’s a matter of opinion. The World’s End isn’t quite as witty as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but it definitely feels like the most creative and the most well-produced of the three movies. It also seems to be the most audience-friendly, particularly for audiences who aren’t so much going for the British humour, which is surprising, considering that it definitely has the most ambitious and ridiculous plot of the bunch!
So, if you enjoyed your first two scoops of Cornetto, then you’ll enjoy your third just as much! If you have yet to partake in this particular comedic dessert, well, why not start with peppermint? You won’t be disappointed!