Twitter Plot Summary: Pegg reunites with four friends from school to finally complete an epic pub crawl in their home town. Things get weird.
Director: Edgar Wright
Key Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine.
Five Point Summary:
1. Cameos! Cameos as far as the eye can see!
2. Jokes about characterless chain pubs. Hah.
3. What’s with the glowing eyes?
4. Getting more and more drunk yet trying to maintain your cover is amusing.
5. Okay, that’s just weird…
After the frankly excellent Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, hopes were high for the final film in the “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy. I’ll clear this up immediately – out of the three films, this one is the weakest. There isn’t much in it, but I’ll explain in a little more detail throughout this review.
Simon Pegg swaps roles with Nick Frost this time round, playing “The once and future king’ Gary King, a near-40 man child who, for reasons that will become clear, decided to recreate a pub crawl that he attempted with four school friends many years previously. When they return to their former home village of Newton Haven they realise that people are acting strangely and things aren’t quite normal. Pegg rarely dials his performance down and whilst he gets most of the funny lines the character doesn’t really do much. Nick Frost, by comparison, gets plenty to do as the “sensible” one, although I can’t help but feel he would have been better used as the comedy foil. Still, it’s nice to get a bit of variation in the characters these guys play, we’ve already seen them do the smart one/dumb one archetypes in Shaun and Fuzz so it’s good for them to mix it up now and again.
Other than Pegg and Frost, who’s relationship is the core focus, the remaining characters don’t really get much characterisation. Considine has a thing for Rosamund Pike’s Sam; Marsan is damaged after being bullied at school; Martin Freeman is an estate agent, gets to smile a lot and has a sister; and Rosamund Pike gets to play a woman. Seriously, she has almost nothing to do other than act as a point of conflict between Considine and Pegg. All of that doesn’t really matter too much though, we get just enough history for each of the characters in the opening act so they’re all reasonably well defined, if not fully rounded. This has always been a strength of Pegg and Wright’s scripts, so whilst the characters may not be as clearly defined as you might prefer, they give you just enough for the point to be irrelevant.
The story is actually really good until we find out why everybody has the ability to shine lights out of their eyes and mouth. The interplay between all of the characters is nice and I’d happily sit and watch them sit around and talk about their lives for a whole movie. As it is, and this being a Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright collaboration, the plot takes a twist at the halfway point and those character interactions take place whilst they have to deal with a problem that none of them ever expected to encounter. When the action kicks in, Wright is typically efficient and you can always see what’s going on. His kinetic directorial style suits action sequences and you can see the lessons he has learned from making Scott Pilgrim a few years ago. There’s also plenty of cameos to keep fans of the first two films happy, and one bigger cameo that’s almost, but not quite, on par with Timothy Dalton in Hot Fuzz.
It’s a much more grown up film than the previous two, the focus on growing up and “joining the real world” is balanced with the theme of misspent youth (and even misspent adulthood) which is the reason why these five characters are reunited in the first place. Because of this more grown-up perspective it lacks some of the fun of their previous two efforts. It’s still very funny and moving in parts, but it’s lacking an edge that was present in the previous films. What’s important is that we’re back in the pub (or rather, twelve of them), it’s as quintessentially British as you can get and is another of the themes that link this to Shaun and Fuzz.
Compared to the trio’s earlier efforts The World’s End lacks a certain something that makes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz stand out as they do. Certainly by the final third it does seem to lose its way a little. The story is still proficient and the direction is as solid as ever, but once we get to the 7th or 8th pub it got a little too frantic for my liking, less about the characters and more about squeezing 12 pubs into a 110 minute running time. Without dipping into spoiler territory I’d have liked something a little more substantial with regards to why the people in Newton Haven have changed, but other than few minor quibbles it’s a solid film that fans of Pegg, Wright and Frost’s previous work will enjoy.
Favourite scene: The bar room brawl where Simon Pegg tries to avoid having his pint spilled by the fracas.
Quote: “We’re going to see this through to the bitter end. Or… lager end.” (I did want to use the one about mead, but I forgot it as soon as I left the cinema and nobody else has put it on the interwebs yet!)
Silly Moment: Take your pick from any of the big pub brawls, they’re all a bit silly by design.