The World’s End is the final movie in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. It sees a group of forty something men, led by Pegg’s character Gary King as they relive their youth, by attempting an epic pub crawl finishing at the titular watering hole. The only problem is that their sleepy hometown has been taken over by alien robots.
I want to start this by saying that I went into the film carrying a hell of a lot of goodwill for it to be great. In fact I booked to watch the whole Cornetto trilogy back to back at my local cinema so that I could make it a proper event.
Perhaps it was this very thing that led to my upcoming statement: The World’s End was a disappointment.
But like I say, maybe it was unfair to watch two genuine cult classics beforehand, as it made the third film’s shortcomings all the more apparent. My main gripe with the film, which came as a huge surprise to me, is Simon Pegg. He has here opted to switch roles with Nick Frost (based on the previous films) and make himself the comedic character of the piece. His character is loud, irresponsible, reckless and selfish, but sadly none of these things make him funny. Pegg just seems like he wants to steal every beam of the limelight away from the fantastic supporting cast (Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddy Marsan).
The problem with this is that he becomes a genuine marmite character. For those around me that were laughing heartily for much of the running time I felt very jealous; I really tried to get on-board but it just didn’t work. For me Pegg is at his best when delivering understated and dry performances that become funny through the situation itself. When he actually tries to be a funny character and relies solely on that character’s foibles and quirks to create humour from nowhere, it falls flat.
One of the other issues is the film’s trailer. For those who are worried I can confirm that yes indeed the majority of the funniest gags have already been shown. The jokes that are fresh feel old. It got my back up to see gags so obviously lifted from such classics as Army of Darkness and Fawlty Towers; whose delivery came across not at all as homage, but lazy knock off.
“We’re going to see this through to the bitter end. Or… lager end.”
Of course there are plenty of really great things about the film. The alien design and execution is great, providing a lot of great slapstick moments as limbs and blue blood fly around during the various bar room brawls. Edgar Wright’s direction is great; his style as impressive and inventive as ever. The 90s soundtrack provides a brilliant nostalgia whilst also linking very well to the on screen action and as mentioned before, the supporting players are really well conceived and realised characters; each with their own arc that feels genuinely meaningful.
But it’s just sad that so much rests on Pegg’s shoulders and I couldn’t engage with the character. It’s the first time in Pegg’s career that I’ve watched him and thought he has become too aware of his popularity, and as such has tried to steal all the glory. That sounds really harsh and I don’t want to think like that because I’ve been following these people’s careers since the early days, and they feel almost like old friends. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to be so candid.
I’m looking forward to watching the film again and seeing if my opinion changes as the story/action beats becomes more and more familiar. I hope that time will change my mind and the weight of expectation now being lifted will help me to see past the bits I didn’t enjoy and revel in the greatness of its great bits!!!