Director: Edgar Wright
Studio: Relativity Media / Working Title Films
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman
A movie mash-up that juggles wry humor, the 40-something melancholy of The Big Chill and a scary sci-fi thriller? How is that supposed to work? Fear not. Edgar Wright is confidently at the helm of a supremely silly, touching screenplay he and Simon Pegg cowrote—the grand finale of “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy.” The film following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is not only a stone-cold hoot but also ridiculously moving.
In the genre-bending The World’s End, Pegg plays a manic, sad-eyed layabout alcoholic clinging to his youth and sense of defiance of middle-class conformity, typified by his neck chains, Sisters of Mercy t-shirt and long, flowing coat. His biggest life goal, his last stand, really, is to gather his reluctant, comfortably wealthy old friends—played beautifully by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine—to finally complete the “Golden Mile,” a marathon pub crawl (12 pubs, 12 pints each) that got aborted 20 years back. Along the boozy, insult-laden route, old allegiances, grudges and rivalries are rekindled, which is pretty much to be expected. Less to be expected is the movie’s smart satire of how the heroes’ fondly remembered pubs have been zombified and made impersonal by soulless corporations. Also surprising is the arrival of the ravishingly pretty, smart Rosamund Pike, who has a long-festering score to settle with Pegg and for whom Considine harbors a long-standing crush. Most surprising of all is what happens when Pegg makes idle chatter with a frozen-faced young bloke in a pub men’s room, a seemingly harmless act that unleashes a barrage of scary, funny and often brilliant special effects–loaded set pieces, let alone a big star cameo of a most sinisterly entertaining nature.
Everyone in the movie is in peak form, but Frost, looking great, makes for one of cinema’s all-time most surprising and delightful action heroes. Run to the theater before anybody has a chance to spoil the movie’s surprises or its consistently funny, bang-on dialogue. How often do goofiness, wit, literacy and sci-fi thrills coexist so entertainingly in one film?