Edgar Wright is a risk taker.
There’s a damn good reason why the cult director has taken on Marvel’s Ant-Man, made a bunch of films that were never supposed to be this revered, and has the audacity to switch from comedy to sci-fi more than halfway through a film.
This should never happen.
But, as the supposed finale in the Three Cornettos Trilogy, joining cult-classics Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, The World’s End finishes with a bang — whether you like it or not. To my surprise, I actually adored the “comedy” version of this film far more than the “sci-fi.”
Wait. You write for who again?
Sure, we’re all about everything Geek, but that doesn’t mean I’d opt for After Earth over Anchorman. The World’s End is a brilliant midlife crisis comedy, eschewing any signs of a genre transformation until the final destination of the 12 pub crawl. Shit, the joint’s called “World’s End”; so, with Wright and (his natural co-writer/featured actor) Simon Pegg, you didn’t exactly expect a final round of Jameson Shots, a taxi dial and a dopey walk of shame, did ya? No, shit goes all to bluhtee hell (somewhat a spoiler at this point, I suppose, if you haven’t witnessed the trailer up above), and things get very messy (not quite messy in a Drive sense, but very messy indeed).
It’s yet another movie in 2013 where we have no choice but to meet our final fate. Thank god for those dangerously delicious dozen pints!
The humor in World’s End is just in how all of this bar-hoppin’ foolishness gets started. I’ve read some reviews where critics cringed at the in-over-his-head douchiness of Pegg’s high-school hero, Gary King. But, it’s this particular “so uncomfortable it hurts laughing” element that made that play with the other actors so sincere. Like, every time you see an old chap of yours you have the sudden urge to act 12 all over again. It’s only natural.
Even the Cornetto’s most unsung hero is the man who kills the most — literally and figuratively. Nick Frost plays Pegg’s polar opposite in family guy, Andy, a far more serious and successful lawyer-turned-Rugby-weekend-warrior. And, trust me, that element will come in mighty handily toward’s the film’s End.
(No, doofus; he doesn’t sue the shit out of aliens. Though, that would be pretty hilarious to see…)
The lot of the film’s humor is watching All of the King’s Men (also Eddie “Peter” Marsan, Martin “Oliver” Freeman, and Paddy “Steven” Considine) finally accept his idiocy, at least somewhat, and start crashing the ol’ watering holes that…all start to resemble Applebee’s. It’s a nice commentary from Wright about corporate assimilation, perhaps even on the stubbornness of the male ego as well, in addition to major plot notes hidden beneath all of those wheatfoam sips ‘n drips.
Thankfully, that genre change just doesn’t come out of nowhere. Wright hints at, well, “the world’s end” throughout the 12 Steps of Hell. That doesn’t mean you have to adore it. The change-up still offers plenty of thrilling goofs. Watching Pegg & Frost get over their disgruntled friendship — albeit momentarily, for the apocalypse! — will also bring smiles to Cornetto’s-watching vets. It’s hard to find two actors who play off each other better, and seeing them go to war for one another is worth all of the far-fetched and pissy, past conundrums. Oh, like watching Gary and Steven battle half-wits over the natural beauty of Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike).
Beyond the late growing pains and the wrong being wronged of it all, those who know the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World director well enough will be pleased to see the return of his contagious shooting style. There’s music video-inspired choreography (and damn good music), vivid crash zooming (i.e. the bottom of the final pint signifying an end to something — such as corporate establishments a metaphor for a now shitty end of the road), and the Wright team’s effectual combo of match cuts and dizzying special effects). More importantly, witnessing World’s End flip to an intergalactic script shouldn’t come as any kind of shock.
It just means we’re ready to pick up the tab, Mr. Wright. Kudos.