The World’s End left me in such an elated state after watching it that in addition to deciding it was my favorite film of the summer, it’s also in the running for my favorite of 2013. What’s so wonderful is that not only is it apparent that people who love films created it, but they also understand what they love about films. The World’s End is a perfect blend of action, comedy and drama.
With little else going on in his life, Gary King (Simon Pegg) decides to organize his old gang from high school, or whatever the UK equivalent is, for a visit to their hometown of Newton Haven for a notable pub crawl known as the Golden Mile, which constitutes drinking a beer in 12 different pubs. They all tried one night about 20-odd years ago, but failed. Gary thinks completing the Golden Mile will bring some him insight or closure because that night was the greatest in his life and he’s been unable to find that same level of bliss again.
Gary’s friends, Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Andy (Nick Frost) have settled down. They have jobs; some have families. They haven’t seen much of him or each other, but with a bit of emotional pressure from Gary, they all agree to reunite. On the other hand, Gary hasn’t changed much at all. He’s gregarious, amusing, and still wears a Sisters of Mercy t-shirt, but the more time the audience spends with him, the more they understand the reasons the other grew apart from him.
Once back in Newton Haven, the fellas think the town has changed, a natural occurrence many people experience when they move away to a bigger city and realize their small town isn’t as special as once thought. But there’s something more to it. Gary gets into a fight with a local teenager, who turns out to be a robot, and the friends discover the town has changed more than they realized.
During that scene, what seemed like a charming British independent drama about friends growing up and growing apart expands into science fiction/action film reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Of course, it’s no great surprise for Wright fans that previously saw a charming British independent romcom expand into a zombie-invasion film in Shaun of the Dead.
The World’s End works on a number of fronts. The script by Pegg and Wright is outstanding. They have created compelling characters that don’t lose their identity when the stakes expand, at least not until they get taken over by aliens, and the talented cast brings them to life. Unlike most modern comedies, there’s a thoughtful story with a point of view being told rather than a bunch of funny scenes connected together. Lines and references that seem to be throwaways are frequently revisited.
Wright’s direction keeps the film captivating. He makes a number of interesting visual choices. He was very much involved in the music selection, which does is perfect in setting the mood and theme of a scene. One great example is Primal Scream’s Loaded, which uses dialogue by Peter Fonda from The Wild Angels that illustrates Gary’s mindset: “We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. And we wanna get loaded. And we wanna have a good time.” The action sequences are impressive with comedic fight scenes that bring to mind Jackie Chan, which is not a coincidence since Stunt Coordinator Brad Allan used to be part of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team.
I can’t recommend The World’s End enough because I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a movie. Do yourself and those behind it a favor and make it the next movie you see. I can’t wait to see it again.