Because serving up a nostalgia-filled comedy fueled by beer isn't enough for Pegg, Wright, and Frost, The World's End mixes in sci-fi and romance along with some of the best fight scenes on screen in all of 2013. In fact, The World's End handles the action sequences so well that it will not only make my Top 10 Comedy Movies of the 2013 list but also likely will land a spot on my Top 10 Action Films list. None of the stars are spring chickens, but Wright stages and shoots the fight scenes in such a way that you can believe these middle-aged guys who aren't gym rats could actually be delivering the blows.
The set-up finds five old friends from a tiny British town reuniting to complete a pub crawl (12 pubs, 1 pint each = The Golden Mile) they abandoned back in high school. Four of the five have grown up to be successful businessmen while one has just never grown up at all. In his mind, Gary King (Pegg) is still the leader of the pack and while his friends have all transitioned to adulthood, he's living in a past in which the most important goal is to make it through those 12 pubs. A solid job, picking up a paycheck, and wearing clothes from this decade...none of these things matter to Gary.
The Bottom Line:
Pegg makes Gary, the most unappealing, obnoxious character of the bunch, into someone you forgive for his actions, while the rest of the gang give Pegg the perfect straight men to work off of. Every member of this impressive ensemble is given his or her (in the case of Rosamund Pike) moment to shine, and the connection between the actors portraying the former schoolmates is genuine and even occasionally touching.
But The World's End isn't all drunken humor and bar fights. Wright and Pegg have delivered a film that's touching and sweet, without being overly so of either element. They also dish out film references - some subtle, others overt - as they did with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and in fact there's so much going on it's absolutely necessary to sit through multiple screenings. Even then there's no guarantee you'll catch all that Pegg and Wright have stuffed into the swiftly paced 109 minutes. It took actually looking at the cast list after the screening to get the genius of the characters' names, and I'm sure I missed out on much more than that.
The only way to make The World's End any better would be to actually see it in a theater that serves beer. On home video this will, obviously, serve as one of the better movies to screen when engaging in a drinking game, not that I'm suggesting that you wait until it comes out on DVD; this one deserves as much business at the box office as possible, and it's also one of those films where sharing it with other fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz will only elevate your viewing experience (it's nice not to be the only one laughing at inside jokes).
The World's End was directed by Edgar Wright and is rated R for pervasive language including sexual references.
Theatrical Release: August 23, 2013