A Boozy Bit of Comedic Brilliance – The World Ends (2013)

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Remember a small indie flick entitled Shaun of the Dead?  If you don’t, stop reading this review, run to your streaming service of choice and give it a watch.  Yes, even if you’re at work right now.  The Weekly Rollup Report can wait.

If you’re familiar with the filmmaking team of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, you know how these movies go.  Mostly they’re genre send-ups featuring quality characters on improbable, hilarious adventures.  The comedy is dry, bizarre and deliciously entertaining.  As the third film in the supposed “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy, The World’s End finishes things up in grand style.  While the film doesn’t quite reach the scope of its lofty ambitions, it’s still a riotous good time and promises a keg’s worth of high quality humor.

Pegg once again gets top billing as Gary King, a local forty-something partier still stuck in 1990.  Despite the passage of time, one unfulfilled event from his young adulthood still claws at him: The Golden Mile, a twelve stop pub crawl him and his mates failed to complete when they were young lads.  Gary’s plan is to recruit his now successful middle aged friends and take one more crack at being local heroes.  They reluctantly agree and set out on a strange, surreal journey where everything same feels strangely different.  Oh, and there’s robots.

Before you scream spoiler, the fun of the film isn’t in the strange events in Newton Haven.  It’s in how well the main cast is developed as childhood friends.  Wright has always made quality character writing job number one and World’s End is no exception.  The meat of the story is in how the gang deals with the madness around them and how it affects each other.  Yes, the film’s setup and payoff are wonderfully ludicrous, but none of it would work without a cast you can root for.  There are even some moments of genuine heart amongst the swirling chaos.  A tough trick to pull but one Wright and Pegg are adept at making happen.

Good thing too, because without exceptional characters, this film could have been a minor disaster.  Without the group of five as the glue to hold things together, the movie’s bizarre twists and hurtling ridiculousness could have been too much for audiences to absorb.  Instead, we believe all the insanity because we want to.  The movie does everything it can to go off the rails, but instead of praying for things to tip back to center, we laugh and go along for the ride.

And laugh, and laugh and laugh.  World’s End isn’t a sci-fi drama: it’s a comedy at the core and never disappoints.  Pegg’s signature delivery and the energy of Nick Frost is only the tip of the humor iceberg.  The group’s timing is also spot on, critical when much of the humor is conversational and quippy, another hallmark of a Pegg/Wright feature.

The film also gets the little things right.  From expertly choreographed action to a well chosen soundtrack to exceptional special effects, the movie is a tightly made package of modern comedy.  The scope of the film exceeds its grasp and around ninety minutes in the gags run long, but these are minor complaints.  One of my favorite films from a disappointing summer, The World’s End is the one great comedy in the 2013 blockbuster season.  According to Wikipedia, this is the last film in some sort of makeshift trilogy.  If that’s the case, so be it but I want more.  The fan in me hopes Simon and Edgar team up again for one more crack at biting British satire.  One of my surprise favorites of the summer.

Score – 9/10

 

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

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Jersey born, New York based and Austin bound, Bill Tucker is a writer of short fiction, film reviews and articles across a variety of media.  He currently writes bi-monthly reviews for Pantheon Magazine and his micro fiction story, K, was recently accepted for publication in Solarcide’s flash fiction compilation, Flash Me. When not writing, he works as an IT Trainer for a fashion software company.  Check out more of his work atwww.thesurrealityproject.com.

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