The World’s End is an absolute joy, packed with constant laughs and a sweetness that somehow stems from friends getting belligerently drunk. There’s something wonderful about seeing Edgar Wright’s films come together in such harmony: Shaun of the Dead being a strange little riff on the zombie genre that turned into a blast and Hot Fuzz was an action flick that became insanely awesome as it embraced its silliness. At the center of both of those films, and The World’s End, is a heartfelt bromance between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. While the first two films had them at ends in some fashion, this one’s heightened by Pegg’s Gary being a selfish dick with no understanding of reality. He feels like the childish protagonist we so often see in an Apatow-produced feature, but those don’t contain a counterpart as strong and varied as Frost, who plays Andy.
20 years ago they, along with three other friends, decided to visit 12 pubs in one night and get a pint from each, concluding with The World’s End. They didn’t make it, but had an eventful, memorable night, one that Gary seems to still live in. Now that everyone’s living normal lives, and Gary’s still effectively a teenager, they aren’t exactly ecstatic about the idea of returning to their hometown to complete that challenge. Somehow, through Gary’s manipulation and guilt-tripping of his friends, they all go, even if Andy says he won’t drink. The film jumps into this rather quickly with no rest, and very soon they find themselves realizing their hometown isn’t how they remembered. People are acting strange, no one really recognizes them, and the people are too nice. It’s as if they’re robots…or something else.
The film commits to its absurdity and mines it for laughs, and it’s far funnier than one would expect. There are near-constant laughs, calling back to jokes made in the previous films and still deriving plenty from the new material. In fact, the movie even creates subtle inside jokes within the film, rewarding viewers for investing in these characters and laughing the first time around. It doesn’t feel lazy or hokey, but sincere and heartfelt. This is a movie that handles its drama incredibly well, helping us realize how flawed and misdirected these main characters are; when they bond, and they laugh, it’s as if we’re watching our own friends. Wright and Pegg wrote a strong script, and Wright’s direction and the editor’s work are phenomenal (best editing work I’ve seen this year). It’s an immensely entertaining movie.
Grade: ★★★★½ (out of 5)