World’s End, The (2013)
★★ / ★★★★
When Gary King and his group of closest friends graduated in 1990, they made it their goal to complete the so-called Golden Mile, a marathon of drinking beers from twelve bars in Newton Haven. However, they only made it to nine. More than twenty years later, Gary (Simon Pegg) considers that particular day as the highlight of his life. He is now an alcoholic. He even lost contact with his buds. But he comes up with an idea: He will pay his friends a visit (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman), dispersed throughout England, and propose that they complete their mission.
There is something missing in “The World’s End,” written and directed by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, and that is a strong third act. The set-up involving the leader of the pack begging and persuading his friends to go along with his wild idea is sharp in poking fun of arrested male development. The twist in the middle is executed with over-the-top—and funny—elegance. However, the last section is uninspired mishmash of explosions and pandemonium. Bigger is not always better in a comedy and this one falls head first.
The cast is undeniably talented and each shines in his own way. Though Pegg commands the mile-a-minute quirky dialogue, it is Marsan who is particularly good especially when we come to learn the trauma he has endured in school. I enjoyed his performance because although he has fewer lines and his character’s personality is less showy, there is a calm about him that is magnetic. He speaks with his body language—the tired and hunched posture to the deceptive smile—and so he shines even when he is not the center of attention.
But this is not a straightforward comedy which is expected given the level of wit, creativity, and entertainment in “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” To reveal the wacky turn of events is to ruin part of the fun, but this is what should be said: the special and visual effects end up overshadowing what should have been a funnier film. Because so much is thrown at the screen, potentially funny one-liners miss precise timing and the chemistry among the men withers. Starting about halfway through, I chucked once or twice but never laughed. I was slightly amused but not engaged.
The final twenty minutes is messy and corny, almost devoid of charm. What is presented on screen feels like a shallow brainstorming session. There are a few good ideas but most are either complete junk or ought to be thought about more thoroughly in order to be considered as workable material. I felt as thought my intelligence and expectations were insulted. It expects to get away with silliness without actually being good or inspired.
There are claims that “The World’s End” is the best out of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (the other two being “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz). People who make such statements are either lying or they do not remember the other two very well. It is not a matter of taste but a matter of careful observation. Without a shadow of doubt, there is a significant gap in quality between this film and the other two. Let’s call a turkey a turkey—not a mythical goose that lays golden eggs.