I feel pretty lucky to have been able to see Shaun of the Dead in theaters. I saw it the Saturday afternoon that it opened it the big multiplex nearby and there were maybe 30 other people there. I had a ton of fun with the movie, despite having to explain everyone else over the next few weeks what the fuck the movie was. I didn’t immediately appreciate the film for what it was, but grew to love it over the next few years on repeat DVD viewings. When Hot Fuzz was coming out a few years later, I was incredibly excited. Knowing how much I loved Shaun of the Dead, after the first viewing of Hot Fuzz, I felt a little disappointed. Obviously it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t run out of the theater recommending it to everyone I knew like I had with the filmmaking team’s previous effort. Again, upon repeat viewings, I found more and more to love about Hot Fuzz and I might even enjoy that film more than the film that first introduced me to director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The trio has done a few projects since Hot Fuzz has come out, some better than others, but all consistently good. With The World’s End, the filmmakers have said this is the end of a trilogy of films with a certain type of humor for a certain type of audience where they’ve taken on these specific filmmaking responsibilities. I entered The World’s End expecting to be a little disappointed, knowing full well that film would only improve over time, but lucky for me, I instantly knew that the film is just as good as any of the other entries into the “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy.
You can tell that Simon Pegg was a genuine “goth” growing up because he didn’t try to make it look cool. Look how goofy he looks!
Gary King (Pegg) knows who he is, knows what makes him happy, and none of those things have changed in the past 16 years. Great for Gary, not so great for his former “friends”. Just out of high school, Gary and his friends tried to finish a pub crawl that took them to twelve different bars, the last one being called “The World’s End”. They failed that night, but great times were had by all. Gary is so fixated on this night as being the best night of his life, and despite his four best friends moving forward in their professional and emotional lives, he calls them together to their old hometown to give the pub crawl one last shot. As if the ways that this group of friends has all changed wasn’t enough, some of the pubs have changed since their last visit as well. People changing and businesses changing all seem pretty normal in a 16 year absence, but there’s something about the town itself that seems a little off, and Gary is the first one to notice. As much as they hate to admit it, Gary’s friends realize he’s right for thinking things were a little off, as the film heads in the science fiction direction when it’s revealed humans in the town are being replaced. From science fiction to social commentary to friendship to holding on to the past, The World’s End tackles lots of heavy concepts and pulls off interesting messages about each one while you’re laughing your balls off the whole way.
Almost as scary as Donald Sutherland yelling. Almost.
Before we go any further, let it be known that this movie was fucking awesome. That being said, I don’t even know where the fuck to begin. I saw this movie a week ago and whereas I normally write a review within a day or two of seeing a movie, I keep getting halfway through my thoughts and then I just start over. There’s so much I can say about The World’s End that I don’t even know where to begin. To say that the film is hilarious would be both one of the most obvious fucking statements I could think of and is a huge understatement. Anyone who reads this site with any sort of regularity knows that I rarely review comedy, as comedy is incredibly subjective and it’s difficult to say that everyone thinks the same things are funny. If you liked Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz or anything else any of the three of these people have done, then yes, you will laugh long and hard at all of the jokes in the film. However, to reduce the film to calling it a “good comedy” would be doing an extreme disservice to the filmmakers considering how many other things it brings to the table.
If drinking will make me as funny as any one of these guys, maybe I should consider getting wasted.
Considering that The World’s End is third film in a trilogy of buddy comedy/genre homages that have no narrative connection, I feel like it’s appropriate to compare it to the other two films. Although both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are hilarious movies that emulate certain genre tropes, they are both fantastic entries of the genre that they’re emulating. The direction, writing, and acting in these films are all 100% genuine, but it’s a certain type of humor that these films bring that prevent them from taking themselves too seriously. I think it’s my approach to those first two films, anticipating strictly comedy, that caused my initial disappointment and only with repeat viewings could I appreciate them. The World’s End is no different from those two films in that it’s a great Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque paranoia-filled science fiction frenzy that just so happens to have a lot of humor. In a summer filled with lots of really fun action films, there’s one sequence in The World’s End where the characters catch their first glimpse of what’s going on in town that might take the cake for the best moment of the summer where the audience stands up, cheers, claps, and yells, “HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!”
Even though Paddy Considine was one of my favorite parts of Hot Fuzz, it was awesome to see him with more lines. Sad to see him without a mustache.
In addition to being a fantastic and hilarious entry into the echelons of body swapping science fiction classics, The World’s End also has a lot to say about friendship, memories, youth, and even the human race. On the one hand, Gary could be considered a fuck up who needs to let go of the past, and on the other hand, he could be a considered who character who knows what makes him happy and will do whatever it takes to make sure those happy things continue into his adult life. Considering my own obsession with things that could be considered immature or juvenile or things that only kids like, I understand what it’s like to do what makes you happy, no matter how others might look at you, and say “fuck it” to everything else. There’s also the questions about friendship and you wonder if these characters are friends because they simply happened to exist in geographic proximity to one another or if their connection is based on something stronger. Living a thousand miles away from where I grew up, this was another theme I could connect to when thinking of all the people I left behind. Will we ever be as happy as adults as we were when we were kids? Do we have to do those things that made us happy when we were younger or is it truly possible to find new experiences and new events that give our lives meaning? Addressing the topics of humans being flawed as a species gets a little bit into spoiler territory, but I think the film addresses how many different walks of life there are, how many different lifestyle options there are that make someone happy, and of course, how humans are imperfect and that’s all apart of the human condition. I know it’s sad to end the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, but holding on too tightly to the past makes the messages in The World’s End all that more a relevant way to end on. And considering how the trio wasn’t whole when films like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Paul were made, I’m just as excited to say any film that any member of this trio is working on because I know they’ll keep their track record of hilarious and heartfelt films.
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