Movie Review: The World’s End

ImageFinishing up their loose trilogy of films, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost freshen up their winning formula in The World’s End, a buddy movie with apocalyptic alien invaders. With Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, the cornetto boys created a language all their own and made the genre movies they always wanted to see, ones that reflected their own nostalgic nerdy selves.  The World’s End moves some of the furniture and puts a fine cap on what have been some of the funniest movies of the last decade.

20 years after high school, Jerry King (Pegg) aka “The King,” because his last name is King, doesn’t have a whole lot going on. Sure, he’s been in and out of rehab, has a place under at his mom’s and sick Sister’s of Mercy tattoo, but not much has improved since the last day of high school. To rekindle some of life’s fire, he invites his old high school buddies to complete “the golden mile,” a 12-pub crawl through their hometown and the one thing he regrets never finishing as a teenager.

The World’s End finds humor in many familiar places. Longtime friendships and nerd culture bind Pegg and Frost together, and Wright establishes their world and relationship quickly and efficiently. Through repetitive shots and motions, these characters develop full lives onscreen. They have quirks which pop up again and again, connecting us to these character and the characters to each other in  satisfying and funny ways.

There’s so much to praise here, it seems unfair to pick out any one thing. Wright’s lightning fast editing, visual coherence, and emotional heft are all well-placed, as usual. The friendship of Frost and Pegg, once again, takes center stage and remains one filled with chemistry. The things we  love about Fuzz and Shaun are here in spades.

That doesn’t mean they don’t try something new. One of the most surprising parts of The World’s End—well, the most surprising non-Pierce Bronan part—are the role reversals of Pegg and Frost. Frost now takes on the role of uptight grown up and Pegg the boorish buffoon. Pegg more than Frost has a better time with it, but clearly they gave Jerry King all the good lines. Still, even though Pegg annoys everyone throughout most of the film, the film presents him as someone worth spending time with, even if it’s because he’s so sad.

The World’s End in more ways than one signals the end of one world. Approaching 40 for this lot seems scary, and some are less well equipped to handle it than others. Without the normal mid-life crisis, kids and family, work/life balance thing that have become  cornerstones of this style of comedy, The World’s End makes something new, exciting, and hilarious out of something as boring as growing up.

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