The World’s End
Director Edgar Wright
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan
Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
British comedy is often overrated, in the same way that France gets too much credit in the romance department. There are three citizens of the U.K. that help bridge the gap between how funny they are and how funny they are supposed to be; Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. When discovering that there would be two end times movies coming out this summer, I looked past the immense talent represented in the U.S. film (Goldberg and Rogen’s This is the End) and waited for The World’s End.
The biggest problem with The World’s End and it’s predecessor, Hot Fuzz, is that they are good films. There are plenty of laughs, decently framed action and a story that is coherent and makes sense. The jokes vary from the one line variety to the Larry David “see you next episode, or two” kind. In many ways, the effects, while still modest, are an improvement over the first movie in the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead. Either of the last two films in this trilogy would be one of the best comedies of the year they were released. The first film of the series, Shaun of the Dead, is one of the best comedies of all time.
It will do no one any good to describe the things that make the first film better than the other two. For me, the exercise will be the same one every other reviewer will be discussing. Let’s instead take this film on its own merits and misgivings. The top of the merit list is in its humor. The dialogue is whip smart and quick. In the ability to laugh at themselves and a reluctance to tell obvious jokes at the cost of others. Even so, it is not a hug fest.
Nick Frost’s Andy Knightly fares best from this arrangement, as he expresses a tough love tied to a resentment that is well founded. It is believable that he could be a lawyer, even if this is not a road he’s travelled before on film. Even more believable is his continuing devotion to a person who does not much deserve it, Pegg’s Simon King.
Pegg coming across as an irreverent loser is a bit of a stretch. No matter how he is made up, I can only picture him as the guy who you’d want at the computer. He’s up for the challenge, though and even if he gives the best lines to the other characters, he is a master at timing.
Cosidine’s Steven is memorable as the lovelorn friend who has a thing for Pike’s Sam. For some reason, I spent much of the film thinking that he had done a great job as Pope in Animal Kingdom, only to discover that was actually Ben Mendelsohn. He was good in Killing Them Softly, as well. Back to Cosidine, though, my memory was triggered by his appearance in The Bourne Ultimatum, as the news guy who gets capped just after he figures out there’s a connection between Treadstone and Blackbriar. In other news, I think I need to see Tyrannosaur.
The Freeman and Marsan are good, but boy, do they look old. It’s nearly impossible to believe that either of them are under 50. Marsan looks like he’s pushing 60. That’s Englishmen, for you. If you don’t think that’s fair, just ask yourself why Pierce Brosnan’s Teacher Guy Shephard looks younger than Marsan, even when he’s at least 20 years older. Some might say it’s his Irish genes. I think it may also have something to do with the fact that he is not quite human.
Wright is a talented director with the potential for greatness. Everything he’s done so far has been worth watching more than once. It’s a good sign for Ant-Man that they were willing to delay start of production for Wright to finish this film. Here’s hoping he brings Pegg and Frost in for any roles whatsoever. His pacing, effects and writing excels here, up until the end, when a leap is made that makes little sense, but also might have been a bit more interesting to see develop. There’s also no real sense of danger, since the bad guys are very easy to beat. Really, Marsan beats the crap out of a jock. How? He looks so old.
The Three Flavors Cornetto is over. It was great fun. Pegg and Frost did not fare so well on their own with Paul, but it was only one movie. There is no reason to think that they will not be making films with Wright in the future. My friends and I will be there.
(**** out of *****)