Director: Edgar Wright
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 109 min.
The greatest moment of Gary King’s life was the night he and his four best friends did the Golden Mile—12 pubs, 12 pints, from the First Post to the World’s End. Well, almost to the World’s End. They never quite made it to the last pub before collapsing on the hill to watch the sunrise. A decade later, Gary’s friends have moved on to careers and families, but for washed-up Gary, that high school moment still stands out as his greatest almost-achievement. And he is determined to “get the band back together” for another go at the Golden Mile—this time to the World’s End. With his friends reluctantly joining him, Gary returns to his hometown, but he is sure something strange is going on. No one remembers him. He was Gary King—the one and only! But the people act as though they have no recollection of him at all. As his friends begin to get frustrated with his self-centered immaturity, Gary may be on the verge of having to confront certain truths about his life and grow as a person. Until he discovers that the whole town has been swapped out with deadly alien robot creatures. . . .
I have been involved in some pretty fierce debates over which is more awesome: Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. Unfortunately, The World’s End falls short of the earlier Wright-Pegg-Frost collaborations. Don’t get me wrong—it was hilarious. I laughed pretty much the whole hour and a half. But it lacked the emotional depth and cleverly incorporated social commentary that made its predecessors great. The emotional stakes in The World’s End were really low. When friend turned robot, there was none of the emotional angst of Shaun vs. his mum or Danny vs. his dad. We never got to know Gary King enough to understand him and root for him, and there was very little character development overall. In contrast to Shaun of the Dead’s smooth and clever real world/zombie apocalypse parallels, the surface level social commentary in World’s End was poorly integrated throughout the film, causing the ending to fall kind of flat.
All that said, it was still hilarious. Though I was never emotionally invested, I still enjoyed the movie. Don’t clamber to see it in the theaters, but if you enjoy the traditional Wright/Pegg/Frost blend of wit, slapstick, and absurdity, The World’s End is sure to keep you laughing. Just don’t be expecting another masterpiece.