The World’s End Review

poster from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

I’ve always preferred British comedies to American ones and Hot Fuzz is one of the all time funniest movies I’ve ever seen. So when the choice came up between another Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost comedy and the City of Bones adaptation, I went for The World’s End, which should not be confused with This is the End, another apocalypse comedy which is terrible and American.

Five friends return to their hometown to conquer the Golden Mile, a local pub crawl they failed as teens, only to find their town has been taken over by robots.

Before seeing The World’s End I wouldn’t have thought this was possible, but I’m meh on a Wright/Pegg/Frost movie. It was slow to start, hilarious in the middle, and kind of fell apart at the end. Easily my least favorite of their movies. I may even go so far as to say I chose the wrong movie to see, but that will have to wait until next week when I see City of Bones.

The World’s End begins with a whirlwind voice-over introduction of the teen versions of the five characters and the twelve pubs that make up Newton Haven’s epic pub crawl: the Golden Mile. I don’t think I took in a word of it. It all happened too fast. The only impression I was left with was that they were a bunch of little jackasses, led by one big jackass in a black school-gunman-in-training coat.

The boys as teens from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

I’m not even sure which one’s Peter and which one’s Oliver.

This was immediately followed by the introduction of the adult versions of the characters, all of whom are doing better than their intrepid leader, which I guess is to be expected. The popular kids always seem to peak in high school. Oliver (Martin Freeman) is an estate agent, Peter (Eddie Marsan) is a car salesman, Steven (Paddy Considine) is a… something… and Andy (Nick Frost) is a banker while their leader Gary (Simon Pegg) is… still a screwup.

The boys grown up from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

Ah, I guess that was Oliver on the left and Peter on the right.

Gary has to trick them all into trying the pub crawl again hoping to regain his former glory and none of them are particularly keen on it, given that they’ve all got wives and responsibilities and sane bedtimes. This is the boring part of the film, where the four of them just trail along behind insane, bullheaded Gary mumbling occasionally funny complaints and threatening to go home and be in bed by 9.

The boys drink up from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

Ha ha grown ups are so old and unfun! Everyone knows you have to be drunk to have fun!

Gary is a total arsehole, and while it’s understandable that the other boys would follow him as teens, I find it incomprehensible that they all continue to follow him now, especially after he lies, cheats, steals from them, and generally acts like they exist solely to be his wingmen. He’s not even endearingly arseholeish. He just needs a punch or two in the face.

Gary the jerk from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

Also, a bath, a haircut, a shave, and a change of clothes.

When Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike) shows up and Gary goes after her, I thought “no please, DON’T MAKE HER FALL FOR GARY.” That would have totally ruined the movie for me. As it is, she barely gets ten minutes of screen time and is absent for most of the movie, which is almost as bad seeing as how she’s the only female character with more than a line or two of dialogue.

Sam in a bar fight from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

Though it could be argued taking off after the first fight proves she’s the smartest.

It’s not until Gary gets into a fight with a teenager in a bar bathroom and accidentally rips the lad’s robot head off in a spray of blue ink that things start to get funny. The funniest part for me was after they discovered the robots but before the robots discovered them, when they’re half drunk and keeping on with the pub crawl trying not to act suspicious lest they be beset by angry robots.

Oliver, Gary, and Steven peek out of the bathroom from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

Are you sure we can’t just hide in the bathroom all night?

That part doesn’t last long of course and the rest of the movie is a screaming mess of robot fights where legions of people with blue lights in their faces walk around with their hands out trying to grab the guys’ faces. It was funny at first – everyone turning around only to find hands in their faces – but quickly wore out its welcome. There were a few other funny moments where robots have bits and pieces of themselves on in the wrong places, but overall they’re very blank opponents… which is probably why the guys refer to them as ‘blanks.’

Robot police officer from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

Or, hilariously, lamp-heads and smashy-smashy egg people.

After the robots decide the guys need the Stepford Wives treatment, they only pause the action long enough for Gary and his friends to have heartfelt conversations about how crappy their lives are (while hiding from robots). They also resort to increasingly ridiculous contortions to keep the guys both on the pub crawl and in town when the most sensible course of action would have been to leg it after the first robot.

Gary with the Golden Mile map from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

No, we have to keep drinking, because I HAVE A BROKEN BRAKE LIGHT!

It gets funny again near the end when Gary faces off against the big head robot and somehow uses his screwup-ness as a weapon against it, but the end is very dark. I know I should have expected that from a movie called The World’s End, but I guess I at least expected it to be a funnier kind of darkness. As it was, it was a downer. I left the theater slightly depressed and mildly confused (what WAS he doing at the very end there??)

The world burns from the Universal Studios film The Worlds End

So when do things go back to being okay again? Oh, never. Great.

So would I recommend this movie to you? Yes and no. As much as I love Wright/Pegg/Frost, this is easily their worst movie, both in terms of humor and story, but it’s still leagues better than This is the End and all the movies like it. Just be aware that you can’t really use it as a pick-me-up like a normal comedy because it has a downer ending.

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