|Review by Greg Vellante|
An inebriated Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Edgar Wright’s The World’s End is one of those crazy, inspired gems that seems to come by every once and a while and just slap you with surprise.
And while I ponder on similar films of the past decade, Wright’s first two films—2004’s Shaun of the Dead and 2007’s Hot Fuzz—easily fit the bill as well, rejoicing in their collective influences and innovations.
The collaborative creations of Wright, along with stars Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (also a co-writer on all three films), have all shined with originality and ripened exponentially with every single revisit.
As a result, I almost feel like I can’t give The World’s End a fair shake just yet, since the number of times I’ve seen Shaun and Fuzz is now reaching double digits. But knowing that I’m basically guaranteed to do the same exact thing with Wright’s latest is not a bad place to begin. This movie is crazy, wild fun with no hangover, leaving you with a desire to get “annihilated” over and over again.
The premise is simple—five childhood friends are reunited to return to their hometown and complete the Golden Mile, a pub-crawl consisting of 12 pubs and 12 pints, concluding at a bar known as The World’s End.
“What could possibly go wrong?” asks Gary King (a brilliant Pegg), a shining example of middle-aged arrested development/desperation who gathers up the rest of his crew for a night of nostalgia, drinking and wishful good times. Rounding off the rest of the posse is Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Peter (Eddie Marsan), all of who have grown up and moved on with their lives while Gary has tragically remained stuck in the heyday of his youth.
The opening act of The World’s End focuses much of its attention on this painful reunion of friends who really don’t seem to get along much anymore.
It’s Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s It’s Always Fair Weather but without the musical numbers. Instead, Wright and Pegg’s ingenious, sci-fi inspired script puts this diverse (and increasingly inebriated) group of characters against an adversary even more menacing than time—the entire town has been taken over by robots.
Except don’t call them robots. One of the film’s running jokes is that the word robot actually means slave, so don’t call the hollowed-out replicas of the townspeople robots. A hilarious debate between Gary and crew about what to call these things had me in stitches, especially when consensus seems to be leaning towards “smashy smashy egg people.”
I wouldn’t dare ruin anymore of this endlessly inventive, riotously funny, and wholly satisfying entry in Wright’s impressive fourth film. In terms of wacky, wild British style, I deem The World’s End most similar to Wright’s impressive and tragically short-lived television series Spaced.
In the end, no punches are pulled, no boundaries left uncrossed. It’s nice when filmmakers and storytellers alike dare to take risks.
And in these regards, Edgar Wright has built a career on fearlessness.