Reviewed by

L. Sue

The third installment of the Cornetto Trilogy has Simon Pegg and friends going on a pub crawl. Trailers would have viewers believe the movie is some beer soaked romp through a sleepy English town, the more drinks the more hilarity ensues. Simon Pegg the actor is definitely a funny person, and gives very entertaining (and sometimes controversial) interviews. Yet those expecting this movie to be filled with Frank the Tank antics will be disappointed at the thoughtfulness and serious tone of the movie. A thoughtful comedy? A serious comedy? Do such oxymorons exist?

One of the more serious topics covered in the movie is growing up. Gary King (Pegg) is the stereotypical Peter Pan case, an adult whose best years were in high school. Unlike the other characters in the movie, he’s wearing the same coat, shirt, and shoes that he wore twenty years ago when he was King of high school. Gary was The Man twenty years ago, the cool kid who knew how to party and was the definition of FUN. Problem is, twenty years have passed and nothing has changed, he’s still the same. It haunts him that he didn’t have closure on the Golden Mile pub crawl, a 12 pub challenge in his hometown of Newton Haven that he didn’t complete back in the day. He calls upon his old school mates to relive their youth. It is Gary’s rallying cry to them, be free. Let go of daily burdens, and just be. Like he lives.

In stark contrast to Gary, his friends have grown up, they have jobs and families and all the responsibilities that comes with that. Gary uses some of the old magic to convince Oliver (Martin Freeman) Steven (Paddy Considine) and Peter (Eddie Marsan) to go back home and try one more shot at the Golden Mile. These three didn’t take too much cajoling and convincing to join Gary, with Andy (Nick Frost) infinitely more difficult for Gary to persuade.

Andy and Gary have a more complicated past than initially depicted, and through the revelation of their history is the serious topic of alcoholism tackled in the movie. Not alcoholism as in “how funny is it that they are drunk throughout the movie”, but as in Andy won’t be drinking. He doesn’t cave to the peer pressure from the group, saying it

takes more courage to drink water at a pub during a football match, and for 16 years he’s been sober. Ever since the (spoiler) fateful accident that might have killed both of them, Andy has sworn off drinking, a concept that drunk driver Gary doesn’t register. It bothers Andy that, like in most drunk driving accidents, the drunk driver Gary was able to walk away while Andy had to fight to live. To see that Gary is still the same person bothers Andy. Hasn’t Gary learned anything over the years? As the movie unfolds and the (spoiler) alien invasion starts, understandably the others want to drop the Golden Mile. Yet Gary’s unflinching, unyielding need to move from generic pub to generic pub is a symptom of the alcoholism. End of the world or not, aliens and all, Gary was getting a drink in all 12 pubs.

As the aliens start to take over more of the plot, even sober Andy gets his drink on. How else can one deal with alien robots that squirt blue blood, who secretly know all your hopes and desires so as to best entrap you? Some pretty cool fighting sequences ensue, Nick Frost is definitely one agile dude.  Just how far Gary has fallen is revealed at the end, he is a rehab patient, who has a lot of difficult choices to make. He wants to be free, and thinks none of his friends are. He equates freedom to drinking and not being told what to do. Spoken like a man who’s been told on numerous occasions to stop drinking.  He’s had to live for 16 years as well with the accident, and by all accounts didn’t move on from it as well as Andy did. As the he crawls though the pubs Gary also begins to wonder, where did the time go? He was once The King, and now? Barely anyone in Newton Haven remembers him. Thomas Wolfe was right, you can’t go home again.  During his lowest moment though, Gary rises to the challenge of the alien invasion, and along with Andy and Stephen, these loyal friends become the planet’s defense against the aliens. What super powers do they use to save the world? What Force is summoned, what Wayne Enterprise utility belt gadget, or Stark industry weapon will come to the planet’s rescue? None of the above. Sheer human stubbornness, and the embracing of one imperfections stops the aliens. To err is human says Gary, his admittance that at some point in his life he might not have been right. It also serves as a statement to the invading aliens, we humans prize perfection but we also recognize it for what it is- a fantasy. The scars we bear, from good and bad experiences form and shape us into who we are.

The aliens, realizing a planet full of people like Gary King is not what they had in mind for the great take over, make a tough choice themselves and decide to leave. In their wake are fires, explosions, and destruction; the planet rebooting itself. The once idyllic town of Newton Haven all ablaze. Each ending though is the start of something new. The movie ends on this rebirth note, and here’s to hoping Simon and company start a new trilogy.

Christopher’s Take

My colleague asked me upon exiting ‘The World’s End’, which movie was funnier, ‘This is the End’ which she didn’t see, or this movie.  Obviously humor is about as subjective as it gets, but for me the easy answer was ‘This is the End’.  But if I may, allow me to qualify this by saying that ‘The Worlds End’ is the better movie.  Where ‘This is the End’ would literally sell its soul to get a laugh, ‘The Worlds End’, while funny enough, seemed more concerned with much larger issues, which Lisa wrote about most of so eloquently above.  Ultimately, ‘The Worlds End’ was more depressing and sad than funny to me.  Alcoholism, dreams deferred, dreams unfulfilled, rampant globalization, shattered relationships, relationships that could’ve been… with a touch of Soylent Green tossed in for good measure.  Nothing much funny about all of that.  Still, ‘The Worlds End’ was enjoyable, just not quite as funny as the first two films in this trilogy, nor as irreverent.  Just so you know, there’s a special place in my heart forever and ever for ‘Hot Fuzz’, even more so than ‘Shawn of the Dead’.

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