I will never forget my college bars. There was the Irish Emigrant for the pub trivia nights, the All-American for the infrequent wet t-shirt girls, Earl’s for the insanely strong drinks and the aura of being in a filthy, run-down bar, and to top all of them off, there was the College Inn. I spent way more time at the Inn than inside any classroom. They had the best jukebox, the best tables, it was dark, it was smoky, and I will never forget the graffiti on the bathroom walls.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) had 12 such bars. In June of 1990, Gary and his four best mates celebrate graduation navigating the Golden Mile, the 12 pubs in their small town having a drink at each. Through a very effective opening voiceover, Gary describes that infamous night, his friends, the girls, the booze, and the outrageousness of it all. It was the best night of Gary’s life.
Life moved on, but Gary did not. 23 years later, Gary pines for that night. His looks are gone; he has no money, no woman, nothing. During a group therapy session, most likely an AA meeting, Gary realizes the fellas could try the Golden Mile again! They never even finished the first one anyways as they were excruciatingly drunk three pubs shy of the goal. The problem; however, is that his ‘mates’ have moved on. They have jobs, mortgages, wives, kids, and most of all, responsibility; these are all nouns Gary knows nothing about.
Plus, they are not exactly chums anymore. Oliver, ‘O-Man’ (Martin Freeman), is a real estate agent with a Bluetooth stuck in his ear, Peter (Eddie Marsan) sells Audis, Steven (Paddy Considine) runs a construction firm and frequently mentions his 26-year-old fitness instructor girlfriend, and then there is Andy (Nick Frost). Gary and Andy were the best of friends until an event called ‘the accident’ that everyone refers to now and then. Andy and Gary have been estranged since the accident.
Through a series of white lies and outright subterfuge, Gary gets the gang back to their hole in the wall town to try and recreate the past. Unfortunately, the pubs have lost their individuality and morphed into the same washed-out, family friendly entities that the lads call ‘starbucking’. The night appears doomed. Then, BAM! We get the WTF moment. I will not tell you what the WTF moment is; I beg you to go into the movie blind. I had no idea what The World’s End was about when I saw it and I am so grateful.
I suppose I should have guessed some skullduggery was afoot knowing that it is from the gentlemen who brought you both Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). Directed by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and co-written by Wright and Pegg, The World’s End concludes a sort of trilogy. Shaun of the Dead had the average Joe versus zombies, Hot Fuzz had the Neighborhood Watch Alliance, and The World’s End has…well, it’s got something all right.
It’s got dozens of pints to drink, long ago memories to reminisce about or skip over, life comparisons, and a sharp wit. Pegg has more than a few biting soliloquies and funny one-liners. Most of these are in the first half before the WTF moment but they are so good they make up for a fuzzy ending and a film that feels forgettable. I’ll remember the pub crawl, but as for the rest, it has the feeling it will just be that third Pegg/Wright movie that was better than Shaun of the Dead but wasn’t as good as the Point Break loving Hot Fuzz.
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley, Michael Smilely