Friday, September 20, 2013
THE WORLD'S END (2013)
Writer/director Edgar Wright and writer/actor Simon Pegg’s first feature, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, paid hilarious homage to George Romero by asking the question “What if there was a zombie apocalypse and nobody noticed?” HOT FUZZ, their second film collaboration, poked fun at action movie tropes while exposing an underbelly of fascism hidden beneath the civility of a quaint English country village. This third installment in their so-called Cornetto Trilogy follows middle-aged Gary King (Pegg), an alcoholic poster boy for arrested development. He drives the same car and has the same goals from when he was 18. To that end he persuades his four best mates from high school to return to their hometown and finish what they started 20 years earlier – the Golden Mile, twelve pints in twelve pubs. Unlike Gary, his friends surrendered years ago to the compromises of adulthood but agree, as men of a certain age do, to this one night of drinking and (limited) debauchery. As the pub-crawl proceeds the men stumble upon regrets and missed opportunities from their past. Shy Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) confesses his feelings for Sam Chamberlain (Rosamund Pike), brother of fellow crawler Oliver (Martin Freeman), and meek Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) confronts a former school bully. Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), meanwhile, works out his boiling resentment at Gary’s sins against him. For much of its first half the script by Pegg & Wright moves briskly along in this fashion, a bittersweet musing on the perils of mourning lost youth. Then the robots turn up, and comic carnage ensues. How this transpires is far more enjoyable than why, so I will forgo the former for the sake of surprise and spare the latter. In this outing director Wright tones down his somewhat tiresome visual flourishes and relies instead on generous writing and an excellent cast. The tone shifts between the serious and the silly work well until the filmmakers paint themselves into a corner, which leads to a less than satisfying ending. Although there’s a part of me that longs for Wright and Pegg to just grow up, I’m not so secretly glad that they haven’t. Go figure.