I’ve been trying to write up THE WORLD’S END for a while now… I have drafts of scrapped reviews – because I couldn’t quite encapsulate just exactly the vibe that makes it stand out from the Cornetto Trilogy… Rian Johnson tweeted the other day that you should support this film, because it is very likely to be the closest thing to Simon Pegg directing a DOCTOR WHO episode.
I can see that, but again… it isn’t quite right.
Then, as I was finishing up my YOU’RE NEXT review, I put SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER Soundtrack on to write to, and suddenly the bulb in the noggin went off. You know how SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER is a movie about a group of pals, but only Travolta’s Tony Manero had the dream intact. All his friends had sorta stagnated in their roles in life, but Tony was blossoming, he was going to dance come hell or high water. He was going to do it! But along the way – we get these glimpses of life and the relationships with his friends.
THE WORLD’S END is not SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER – exactly. In most ways – it’s a completely different, less melancholy, but constantly a great time. Here the group of friends radiate from around Gary King (Simon Pegg) – his last name has given him a since of dominion over his posse of High School mates. Unseen by us, is an inevitable downward spiral of constant disappointment and dependency that has driven them all away from Gary. We hear Simon’s Gary narrating the story of the greatest night of his life which was an unsuccessful but vain/glorious attempt to complete the Golden Mile in their home town. Turns out he’s in a group session. Seems Gary has had some darkness that isn’t exactly spelled out, but personally I think he’s survived something that noone should attempt.
Here he’s asked if he regrets not finishing the Golden Mile… and suddenly – the obsession is born. He’s going to get Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine) and Peter (Eddie Marsan) back to their hometown to complete what they couldn’t as youngsters. The Golden Mile will be theirs, come The World’s End, the final pub.
Edgar and Simon wrote the WORLD’S END – and the way they layer their films for maximum repeat enjoyment is a thrill. Like… the friend’s last names are their stations within the group. Gary is King, Andy is KNIGHTley, Oliver is Chamberlain, Steven fancies himself the Prince and Eddie Marsan’s Peter is very much a Page. Listening to the dialogue is of paramount importance because there’s treasures peppered throughout. Fun easter eggs to hunt and find. The extended casting of this film is a cast of faces that you’ll delight at discovering throughout the film.
But the gold. It’s the core group of friends. They’d fallen out of touch with one another, and really – they’re there because Gary put them back together, but they’re dreading his presence and enjoying each other quite a bit. Gary is that friend that you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The friend that never loses arguments and is never wrong because he’ll just wear you down to a point of exhaustion.
However – the BIGGEST difference in the Cornetto than the first two is that Nick Frost’s Andy kind of has the worst kind of distrust and hate for his friend Gary. He’s manipulated into coming, but he’s fully aware the entire time that he’s going to regret it. Gary’s every action frustrates him. Andy was Gary’s loyal right hand. They fought, drank and partied side by side, until the one night Andy needed Gary and Gary completely fucked him over. After that, all he could see was Gary’s bullshit.
To have a Cornetto Film, where Nick Frost isn’t giving Simon Pegg puppy love eyes – feels strange. Nick is on the wagon. He’s drinking water. He’s not the Nick Frost we know…
Watching how they’re going to get past their issues is a great great joy to behold. More than that though – you’ll see each of the friends as a possible model for someone you know. They’re great types… my fave of the other 3 friends is Eddie Marsan’s Peter Page.
He’s a complete push over. The first pigeon that Gary King marks for conquest. Peter Page has been picked on his entire life, but in Gary’s group… he had a place. It was the fond memories in a very tough time in his life. School was tough, he was a target for bullies… and his life since, seems to be alright, but the idea of going on a pub crawl with his old friends… it’s just exactly the sort of grin he’s been missing. The film isn’t focused directly on Eddie much, but if you can pry your eyes off Gary, Andy, Oliver and Steven, you’ll find Peter Page usually coming up last in shots and giving reaction shots that will tickle you through and through. I caught a couple the first time I saw the film, but on repeat views (3 times thus far) Marsan just continues to shine and shine.
Edgar Wright fans will love how many of his great stable of talent you’ll spy working in this movie. But also who he’s adding to the group.
Then there’s the blue blooded NOT-ROBOTS in the film and folks – the fight scenes are such a joy to behold. Every friend has a different fighting style and strategy. Of the fighting friends, Nick Frost’s Andy Knightley is the supreme fucking badass. You’ll want a blue stained stool wielding Brit-HULK to battle every action figure you have. He’s… a force of nature unleashed.
Some people feel the need to spend enormous funds to create violent spectacles. All you really need is Nick Frost. The energy that he gives to his Clobbering Time is the exact joie de vivre that THE THING was missing in the fairly stillborne Fox endeavors. The mad glee in his eyes. Years of reserved living tossed off for what is surely the last night on earth. Right? Well, you’ll just have to see how it ends.
I guarantee it is the sort of satisfaction that will make you eager to complete the collection at home.
I’ve also theatrically seen all three films back to back – and if you have the opportunity to explore that – the enormous amount of visual cues and riffs shared with these three films – makes this series one of the great film comedy series. The editing, filmmaking and use of sound and music continues to just absolutely thrill and delight with all three films building different film universes… but tied in a strange Edgar Wright multiverse that has delicious ice cream treats, fine beer, wonderful fences to hop, ludicrous levels of playfully fun violence and a beat that you can smile ear to ear with.
This trilogy isn’t an end, but a beginning of a wealth of future film that we’ll discover not just from Edgar Wright, but every talent utilized in these films. I mean, Nick Frost is gonna be ANT MAN and Pegg is going to be ABDO-MAN soon enough. But take your drinking buddies and celebrate THE WORLD’S END, it’s a party that continues view after view after view…