By Gina Scialabba
One night. Six friends. 12 pubs. A whole lot of pints. Oh, and total annihilation. That’s the plot of the new British science fiction comedy, “The World’s End.”
The film answers the burning question: Just how far will a person go for a pint—to the end of the world, perhaps? It’s basically a boys’ night out gone very wrong.
Director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up again, following their hits “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) and “Hot Fuzz” (2007).
The third and final installment in this film series features the same actors in all the movies, and each movie is a social commentary targeting our obsession with “genre films.”
“Shaun of the Dead” turned the classic zombie brand on its head. “Hot Fuzz” satirized action films.
Here, Pegg and Frost poke fun at apocalyptic, end-of-the-world movies, alien invasions and suburban conformity.
Meet Gary King (Pegg). In 1990 he was the cool kid. He smoked cigarettes, listened to cutting edge U.K. ‘90s pop (Primal Scream, Stone Roses, Suede) and drank lots of beer.
His four friends, Andy (Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan), decide to celebrate the end of school by going on an epic pub crawl to culminate at the aptly named World’s End Pub. Alas, the boys never make it.
Now meet Gary King in 2013. He still smokes cigarettes, still listens to bad U.K. ‘90s pop (Primal Scream, Stone Roses, Suede) and, you guessed it, still drinks lots of beer. Yes, he is a time
capsule of a person: never moving forward, always stuck in the past.
The others friends have each left their hometown and are now husbands, fathers, men with careers. Well, all but Gary. The former ringleader is fast approaching 40-years-old and hasn’t changed.
He desperately tries to keep memories of his past glories alive. It’s sad and almost familiar at the same time. Who doesn’t look back fondly on their youth with rose-tinted glasses?
Gary reunites the old gang as they return to their hometown of Newton Haven and try the epic pub crawl. The aim is to finish their drinking challenge, “The Golden Mile,” once and for all.
All of these characters are at some kind of midlife crossroads and are confronted with unresolved matters from their past. Soon, their homecoming celebration becomes a fight for survival against hordes of aliens, with the alcohol-fueled odyssey turning into a battle for survival.
Suddenly, drinking 12 pints across 12 pubs is the least of their worries.
“World’s End” is a bit more serious than the two previous movies, but still a whole lot of fun. Sure, there are aliens and Stepford-like wives, but the movie also deals with the inevitable idea of growing up and moving forward, with an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” twist (both the 1956 and 1978 versions).
If you’ve never seen a Pegg/Frost tag-team, you are in for a treat. They epitomize the great buddy duos of the past. Think Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy or Matthau and Lemmon, only British and way more culturally relevant today.
You may be thinking, “British comedy. I hate British comedy!” Give it a chance.
You won’t find Harold and Kumar looking for White Castle, or the boys from “The Hangover” on their drunken misadventures.
Instead, you will find quick-witted, satirical humor with numerous cultural references. Blink and you may miss one.
Oh, and don’t forget to look for the Cornetto ice cream tribute. (See sidebar).
If you go…
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Genre: Science Fiction, Comedy
US Release Date: Aug. 23, 2014
MPAA Rating: R
Directed by Edgar Wright
Fact: The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End”) is connected to a Cornetto ice cream, featuring scenes where a main character purchases a Cornetto flavor. According to its website, “Cornetto consists of a delicious, crispy-baked wafer, coated inside from top to bottom with a chocolate-flavour layer, combined with a delicious ice cream.” “Shaun of the Dead” features a red strawberry for the film’s blood elements. “Hot Fuzz” includes the blue original Cornetto, to signify the police element, and “The World’s End” features green mint chocolate chip flavor in tribute to aliens and science fiction.