After a nearly 6-year absence, the Wright-Pegg-Frost partnership has reunited to conclude their self-named trilogy with an ode to social science fiction, “The World's End.” Commencing in a nostalgic tinted tone, the film introduces the audience to a group of teenage friends who are attempting to complete the Golden Mile, a pub crawl incorporating 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. The friends, however, never complete the task, and the narrative then transitions to the present. Twenty years later, Gary King (Simon Pegg), an Epicurean alcoholic and self-proclaimed leader of the group, wants to recreate and complete the extensive pub crawl, and he sets off to regroup his estranged friends (portrayed by longtime collaborator Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan). As the friends return to their former grounds, they examine their lives in terms of past and present, engaging in words often reconciliatory and stark. Newton Haven, meanwhile, is hosting a bit of its own otherworldly strife, and the group slowly realizes through their personal ordeals that their hometown has changed as well.
Fans of the other installments of the trilogy will immediately warm up to “The World's End” sense of humor. Written by Wright and Pegg, the film casts jokes and gags at a quick-witted pace, and audiences will encounter more than a few instances of guffaw-worthy moments. Those that have not enjoyed the previous oft-branded films may not be easily converted with the third film of the series, but “The World's End” manages to maintain and, at times, surpass its companions.
Pegg and Frost, in particular, are excellent. Playing against typecast, the duo unearths new depths of comedy, and most of the laughs stem from viewing the interaction between these two actors. Much credit goes to the supporting cast, too. The movie often delves into dark humor, but the overall strong performances from the cast keep the film at a joyful stratosphere. When the film enters its inevitable kinetic phase, introspection cedes some importance to exuberance and dastardly fun scenarios. Wright continues to demonstrate his energetic aesthetic as director, and “The World's End” features amusingly staged brawls and physical comedy.
Much of the humor, however, is plucked from character-driven dialogue that derive tremendous pathos from Pegg's character, an incessant man who refuses to let go of his former glory days. The movie argues poignantly in favor of his character's careening, immature mode of existence while offering numerous opportunities for apprehension. Contrasted against a world imagined in colors both homogenous and drab, Pegg's character functions at his best as a catalyst for illustrating the best of humanity at its worst. As a social commentary on the world at large, “The World's End” reminds the audience of the audacity inherent to the human spirit. The film's triumph is doing so while scoring big laughs.
One of the year's best comedies, “The World's End” is a fitting end to the trilogy that began with an equally brilliant zombie flick. Thoroughly amusing and entirely captivating, the movie continues the work started by its companions, delivering an infinitely debate-worthy coda. Fans of the “Cornetto Trilogy” will argue about its place alongside the other installments, but few will argue against its merits. The team behind the trio of films have triumphed in their endeavors. Here's to hoping for more future collaborations between the old friends.
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