At last, The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, as it’s become known, arrives at it’s conclusion. The first, Shaun of the Dead, was the zombie one. The second, Hot Fuzz, was the action movie one. And now we have The World’s End, the science-fiction alien invasion one.
It’s been a while coming, mainly because of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s accelerating stardom. Especially so in the case of Simon Pegg, who’s been popping up in all sorts from Star Trek to Mission Impossible. Also getting in the way, was what felt like an unofficial end to the trilogy, Paul, starring the voice of Seth Rogen as a foul mouthed alien. But that was obviously more Americanized than Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Both of those films retained something quintessentially British, despite being influenced by Hollywood.
So it’s fitting that The World’s End is based around that most British of pastimes, the legendary pub crawl, downing a pint or two in one pub before quickly moving onto the next. Simon Pegg plays Gary King, a 40 year old who’s never grown up, and desperate to relive a pub crawl of his youth that was the best night of his life. It sticks in his craw that him and his friends never finished the 12 pub pissathon, never making it to the final pub, The World’s End. Unfortunately, his friends are now all grown up, and moved on with families and work commitments, and are somewhat reluctant to join him. However, join him they do, but the old magic proves hard to find, especially for Andy Knightly played by Nick Frost.
It’s been six years since Hot Fuzz, and nine years since Shaun of the Dead. Back then, Pegg and Frost were on fire, with both those films feeling kind of effortless. Action movies and zombie films were parodied with obvious affection. By contrast, it sometimes feels like The World’s End is not poking fun at science-fiction because of the films Pegg and Frost loved when they were younger. Rather, it feels like they’re doing it just because of they’ve already done zombies and action movies, and they’ve nowhere else to go.
And while The World’s End might lack the fresher, younger vibe of the previous two films, we have to remember that everyone involved is older now. And The World’s End plays on that. These are older characters who have moved on from more immature pursuits. In a way, it’s probably a reflection of where Pegg and Frost are in their own lives, just as in Shaun of the Dead, where they tapped into a twenty something slacker vibe.
The World’s End shares many of the trilogy’s ideas. They’re all pretty much about two guys working through their differences, despite the many other peripheral characters that surround them. But the film is probably closest to Shaun of the Dead in spirit, and setting. When Gary King says, “Ever have one of those nights that starts out like any other, but ends up being the best night of your life?” you sense that Pegg is intent on recapturing not just the highs of those nights, but the highs of his earlier movie career. Comedy, like rock ‘n’ roll, is often a young man’s game.
It might sound like I’m saying The World’s End isn’t funny. Well, it probably isn’t as funny as the previous two in the trilogy. But it’s still damn hilarious.