September 26, 2013 by Hope W.
The World’s End is British comedy gold, pure and simple. Written with razor-sharp British wit (which means lots of straight-laced humour, puns and even visual gags) by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, it rounds up their “Cornetto Trilogy” (named so because they feature a Cornetto flavour in each of them), which includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, two other comedies in the same vein.
In this one, four friends — Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) — now in their 40s, are reluctantly dragged back to their hometown of Newton Haven by the fifth member and washed-up leader of their gang, Gary King (Simon Pegg) to have a last hoorah and finish up the Golden Mile, a pub crawl of 12 pubs that they didn’t finish back when they were 17. As they embark on their quest, they begin to realise that their town has been overtaken by alien body-snatchers, and it becomes a desperate race to complete their journey and reach The World’s End.
I keep emphasizing that it is British comedy, because the way the Brits do humour is just so subtly sarcastic and involves so much wordplay that you have to be equally sharp yourself to catch all of it. (I’m pretty sure I only caught half of them.) Here’s an example: at one point of the film, Steven accuses Sam (Oliver’s sister, whom he had always a crush on, played by Rosamund Pike) and Gary of having something going on between them, and Sam says “There’s nothing between me and Gary!” and suddenly one of the body-snatchers jumps out *between* them and barrages towards Steve. Perfect combination of wordplay and comedic timing — one that you would be able to anticipate, when you get the hang of it, but doesn’t make it any less funny.
The dynamic between all the actors are simply gold. All of them are veterans of British comic acting, and the best part is they look so straight-laced, and they deliver their lines with British unflappability, which make the four friends the perfect foil to Gary’s ludicrousness. (Gary being mental, by the way, is the reason why they continue their pub crawl, even though they find out about the body-snatchers at the fourth pub. And the rest go along with it because, well, he’s their leader, and they don’t have a better idea.) It also makes it all the more hilarious when they give up all semblance of respectability and go crazy. Pierce Brosnan also makes a surprising appearance.
Here’s a bit of trivia to show you some of the brilliant allusions that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg hid within the script: the main characters’ surnames all have royal/court connections: (Gary) King, (Andy) Knightly, (Peter) Page, (Steven) Prince, (Oliver) Chamberlain, which correspond to their roles within the gang — Andy as Gary’s faithful sidekick, Steven as the second-in-command or the almost-equal, who is thwarted at every turn by Gary swooping in and stealing whatever he expresses interest in, and so on. Each of the names of the 12 pubs featured in the movie also foreshadow events that take place there, which I shall not spoil here; and like all British pubs, they have delightful names like ‘The Famous Cock’, ‘The Cross Hands’, ‘The Two-Headed Dog’, ‘The Hole in the Wall’ and of course, ‘The World’s End’. (Guess what happens there.)
This is one movie that I will be catching again, with subtitles, when the DVD comes out.