Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The World's End (2013)

Seen: At the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square.

Once a cool and unmotivated teen who just wanted to have fun all the time, Gary King (Simon Pegg) is now a lonely addict who just wants to reclaim his glory days. He collects together his four best friends from high school- Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Stephen (Paddy Considine), and Andy (Nick Frost)-, who are now all serious and hard-working regular people, for one night of drinking and debauchery in their hometown. Gary's goal is to take them all through the "Golden Mile", a 12-location pub crawl that they'd tried and failed as teens to complete. Reluctantly the old friends follow their former leader, and as the night drags on two things become apparent: Gary's obsessive nostalgia might be indicative of greater emotional stress, and that everyone in the town is acting very strange.

I am not yet at the age where I'm lusting after my youth, although like any good twentysomething I do have 90's pop culture nostalgia. The themes of The World's End may not be something I can personally relate to, but the script and performances are strong enough to make for a surprisingly touching action/sci-fi/comedy tale. It starts off as a funny, slightly uncomfortable comedy about a desperate man doing desperate things to hold on to some semblance of purpose in his life through his fond memories of teen years. An opening flashback informs our view of these characters today, while also predicting future events in the film. They've all become serious-minded foils to Gary's over the top "cool guy" demeanor, and it seems not even alcohol will help heal their fractured friendships. Luckily, an accidental discovery of their hometown's secret extraterrestrial presence shocks them all into dealing with their personal business (in between all the alien robot ass-kicking, that is). It becomes a weird fight for their lives and sanity while opening up new doorways into their personal issues.

The World's End is a great mixture of superbly filmed action sequences, referential storytelling, strong character development, and hilarious dialogue, all pulled together by Edgar Wright's hyper-stylized approach to visuals and editing. It's a little dark, and that's good, as it strikes an emotional chord deeper than their previous comedies ever aimed for, and makes for a fitting end to Wright's, Pegg's, and Frost's trilogy. Like their other collaborations, it's the kind of film that will likely improve on repeat viewings, and I look forward to watching it again.

I have to say, my main criticism is that I wish there was more Rosamund Pike. Then again, that's kind of how I feel every time I see Rosamund Pike in a movie.

4.5/5

Pair This Movie With: I just wanted to watch the rest of the Cornetto Trilogy, naturally, so put this together with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz for an awesome day.

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