Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul, Run Fatboy Run – all great films, but I wouldn’t have said I was a particular fan of Simon Pegg. But The World’s End changed my mind. Dye someone’s hair black, dress them in a long flowing black coat and big boots and they achieve instant cool. Simon Pegg was rocking the goth look. I’m probably biased, having once rocked the goth look myself, but I love that style. It’s so striking. And it can make anyone look good.
Oh, and I really liked his acting in this, too.
But onto the film. The World’s End basically follows the plot line of Jack Finney’s novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers, only with more pubs. What made the film come into its own was not the plot, but the characters, the setting, the comedy and the theme of the older person realising they have lost their youth and trying to recapture it. I don’t know why, but that theme has always touched a nerve in me. I’m a sucker for it, it breaks my heart every time.
The film starts with Gary King (Simon Pegg) collecting all his old school buddies together (played by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine) for one last go at the Golden Mile – an epic pub crawl covering all 12 pubs in their home town. Gary King is the tragic hero on a par with other great literary characters. He is the leader of the pack, a rebel without a cause, dedicated to having fun even if it kills him.
He’s a comedic character, some funny dialogue and lots of slapstick, but there are several moments of brilliantly-done pathos in which we are allowed glimpses behind Gary’s facade. One scene in particular between Gary and Andy (Nick Frost) had me sobbing into my neighbour’s popcorn. Yet the film achieves the trick of never becoming too maudlin or self-indulgent.
Nick Frost. Now that is a guy, I think, who deserves way more recognition than he gets. His acting is comic genius, his jumbled front teeth are adorable, his speeches are majestic. I’m sure all the biggest laughs I heard in the cinema went to him. He just gets it right every time. Yes, I’m a Nick Frost fan. Some people think of him just as a foil to Simon Pegg, in which case I point them towards the comedy series Hyperdrive that he stars in. I can’t recommend it enough.
World’s End is set in Gary King’s hometown of Newton Haven, a small dead end town. I grew up and still live in a town very much like it. Andy’s attitude to it is one I’m sure a lot of small-towners, including myself, can relate to: “I made a promise not to die in this town”. I liked how the setting was a character in itself, the ‘blanks’ keeping the main characters trapped in the town a metaphor for the struggle of their teenage selves to escape out into the world.
If all that sounds a bit too heavy, there’s also a lot of slapstick and knockabout comedy, with even a nod to the great ‘Fawlty Towers’ in one scene. Lots of fun fight scenes (I love how almost everyone becomes a consummate fighter when faces with a horde of angry robots), although nothing as good as that fight scene in Shaun of the Dead. The scene with the robot wearing her twin’s legs in place of her arms was genius. Pure genius. And lots of cameos from great actors, from Pierce Brosnan to Reece Shearsmith (another comedy actor I shamelessy fan over).
I left the cinema invigorated, humming ‘I’m Free’ under my breath and only slightly paranoid that my town had been taken over by robots in my brief absence. I was all ready to embark on a pub crawl all of my own, until I remembered my town only has two pubs so it would be more of a Golden Inch than a Golden Mile. (Oo-er, missus.) So I went home and listened to Sister of Mercy instead. (Really hope they bring out a soundtrack to this film.)
Go see it!