The only thing out of order is how much fun this movie is.


Theatrical Release Date: 08/23/2013
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, David Bradley, Pierce Brosnan, Julia Deakin, Mark Heap
Rated: R for pervasive language including sexual references.
Runtime: 1 hour, 49 minutes


Trailer:

There is a complete hole.

Comedy is perhaps the most subjective of all the cinematic genres. People are just wired to laugh at different things. Bridesmaids, There’s Something About Mary, The Mask; millions of people think those films are hilarious. Not me. I’d rather watch a marathon of Say Yes to the Dress than sit through any of those (and I’m more of a Food Network guy than anything on TLC not about over-indulged pageant addicts).

However, when it comes to the work of writer/director Edgar Wright and his collaborations with writers/actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I simply can’t fathom why their efforts aren’t more widely appreciated. From the brilliant TV series Spaced to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, every element is damn near perfect. I’m sure it helps that I’m smack dab in the middle of their wheelhouse – a nerdy geek with a love of science fiction and buddy pictures. Still, they’ve managed to craft metric tons of wit into extremely tight segments, all while exhibiting character, heart, and wearing their subculture badges with honor and distinction.

Having given it some thought, I can identify the root cause of their under appreciated status with the mainstream on this side of the pond. To win over American comedic sensibilities, you cast your net as wide as possible and shoot for the lowest common denominator. Most network sitcoms, even the ones purporting to be for a niche demographic (*cough* Big Bang Theory), utilize the same base tendencies as every overtly broad program that has come before; complete with laugh track (because I need to be told when to laugh). Rather than go that route, Wright, Pegg, and Frost have simply stuck to what makes them laugh and a hardcore group of fans have been laughing with them for over 15 years (if you start with the short-lived BBC TV series Asylum that Wright and Pegg collaborated on).

The World’s End marks the end of a loose trilogy of movies (the aforementioned Shaun and Fuzz … huh, that sounds like a Nickelodeon show). The characters are all different but the main players have remained, as have many of the supporting cast. This time around, Pegg plays Gary King, a guy who peaked in high school and wants to relive the glory days one more time; gathering his best mates (Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Martin Freeman) for a second crack at a pub crawl they failed to complete all those years ago. But while most of them have changed a bit over time, that’s nothing in comparison to the changes that await them when they revisit their hometown.

I’m stopping with the plot synopsis there. If you watch the teaser trailer, you’ll get a bit more but this really is a movie best seen without any full disclosure of plot development. All you need to know is that it’s from Wright, Pegg, and Frost. Their track record speaks for itself. Like their other work, there are a lot of layers going on here and you can enjoy it on any one or more of those levels that you want.

Sure, there’s the basic comedy, action, and sci-fi elements on display. They’re all handled brilliantly by Wright and team. But there’s a real story underneath it all that connects the audience to the characters. It’s that connection that makes the events which unfold on-screen worth watching. The movie is constantly throwing jokes out there but the first third of the movie is squarely aimed at setting up the characters so that what happens to them will matter. I’m constantly amazed at how their projects are able to make the characters relatable, no matter how ludicrous the setup may be, or far-fetched the overall concept is on paper.

The World’s End is different though from Shaun and Fuzz (seriously, that’s a great name for a TV show … maybe a Law & Order spin-off?). Each of those previous works were subverting a genre and mashing it up with others. Here, it is a blend of comedy, action, and science-fiction but there’s no clear trope or brand as its base. Oddly enough, while I have no idea if it’s intentional, the closest thing to a story basis I see is from the Dr. Who reboot/resurgence sparked with Christopher Eccleston as the ninth doctor and his battle against the Autons. I’ll leave it at that. If you get the reference, great. If not, I haven’t given anything away.

I’m always at a loss really, to review comedies that absolutely hit it out of the park. Describing the setups or jokes is pointless. All one needs to know is that the movie is damn good and I’m one of an ever-dwindling number of people who don’t want to know the punch line before I sit down in the theater. I sat and thought about it and I simply can’t find anything I think the guys didn’t handle with the utmost care and precision. As such, the boys rack up another perfect rating from me. If you’ve liked any of their previous work, you’re only reading this review because you like my writing or you’re on the loo or something else British – because if you’re a fan of their work, you’ve already seen this movie or have irreversible plans to do so.

I will say that on a personal level, if I were to rank the trilogy from top to just-below-top, it would be Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and then The World’s End. However, considering I think they’re as near to perfect comedic films as there can be, that’s basically me giving out 1A, 1B, and 1C rankings. I just personally find the buddy-cop genre slightly more fun than the other two … but will be purchasing the steelbook blu-ray of this movie to join the shelf with the rest of the trilogy and it’s not a question of whether I’ll watch this movie again in theaters, it’s how many times I’ll watch it again in theaters.

5 out of 5