Every now and then I receive a notification on Facebook inviting me to a school reunion. I seldom attend the events because interacting with chums you haven’t seen in years can be awkward. People change and it soon becomes apparent that once formerly close buddies no longer have anything in common. Despite my age I still enjoy video games and cartoons, but the same cannot be said of the people I hung out with during my teens. The majority of them have matured, started families and are climbing up the corporate ladder of their respective jobs. It’s the same deal for Gary King, the protagonist of The World’s End. Life peaked for him when he graduated so he opted to remain a party loving alcoholic. Twenty years later, eager to relive the good old days, he coerces his old gang to join him in tackling a pub-crawl, which they failed to complete back in their youth.
The World’s End is the name of the final stop in a pub-crawl, dubbed the Golden Mile, which requires that participants drink a pint from twelve of Newton Haven’s most popular bars. A dozen beers in one evening? LOL. What a lightweight. You gotta pump those numbers up – those are rookie numbers. Anyways, irresponsible Gary King via the allure of nostalgia (and guilt tripping) manages to convince his schoolyard mates to migrate from London to their old stopping grounds for one night, to finish the drinking crusade they started two decades prior. Andy Knightley, Steven Prince, Oliver Chamberlain and Peter Page reluctantly agree to King’s demands, although much to Gary’s chagrin the group only accept after getting permission from their wives. Even worse, Andy’s tipple of choice is rainwater in a glass because he has given up on alcohol.
Gary’s tavern tour starts badly and gets worse as the night progresses. Visiting each saloon is an exercise in déjà vu because the establishments look identical, as a pub chain has bought them all out. The locals don’t recognise the returning King either apart from one landlord who, as luck would have it, recalls previously barring Gary from his premises. Gary is also denied some loving when he bumps into Oliver’s sister Sam. She has no desire to re-enact the passionate shag they once had in a disabled loo. Speaking of toilets, whilst taking a pee Gary gets into a brawl with a stranger. The fight ends with Gary literally knocking the guy’s block off – revealing that much of the town’s populace has been replaced with extra terrestrial automatons! Will the discovery prompt Gary to ride out of Newton Haven? Nah, you can’t drink and drive. Let the pub-crawl continue!
My rating for The World’s End is a four out of five. Once again Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have succeeded in delivering a gut busting British comedy filled with witty banter and sarcastic quips. The later scenes also feature some surprisingly good fight choreography. Pegg is great in the lead role of the Peter Pan like Gary King, who refuses to grow up. He is totally oblivious to the feelings of others and lives just to pursue fun. King may look ridiculous dressing like a Sisters of Mercy band member in his forties, but I can sympathize with his refusal to let go of the past. All that said I cannot say that I still drive the first automobile I ever owned (like he does) or that I still listen to music recorded on cassette. I am happy to see the end of tapes given that vast chunks of my youth were spent waiting for Commodore 64 games to load.
Although the film is brill I should caution viewers that The World’s End is the weakest movie in the Wright directed Cornetto trilogy. I guess the novelty is starting to wear off, as The World’s End borrows ideas from its predecessors. Like Hot Fuzz the story hinges on a town’s dark secret and akin to Shaun of the Dead there are pub-based scraps fought against enemies that are no longer human. Viewers who were enjoying a tranquil comedy about estranged friends reuniting in their adult years may not care for the whacky action that follows the Body Snatchers twist, but I personally didn’t mind the narrative’s change of pace. Heck, the sci-fi reveal works for me as I can use that excuse when next turning down a class reunion. Sorry, I’d love to attend your shindig but I can’t due to the threat of alien robot invasion.