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Article by Teddy Durgin

The World's End Is Bloody Smashing

A lot of movie reviewers are comparing "The World's End" to "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz." And rightfully so. All three movies are directed and co-written by Edgar Wright and star British funnymen Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. But, for my money, the movie their latest effort most reminds me of is "From Dusk 'Til Dawn," the 1996 Robert Rodriguez-Quentin Tarantino smash-up that started off as one movie and then took a severe left turn halfway through and became a COMPLETELY different movie altogether. Something similar happens in "The World's End." Pegg and Frost play childhood buddies who reunite with three other old school chums to go on a 12-bar pub crawl in their little hometown that they failed to complete when they were younger. They've all gone their separate ways since graduation and have had varying degrees of personal and professional success. Well, except for Pegg's Gary King, a man so stuck in the past that he drives the same car he did in 1990 and listens to the same mix cassette tape his buddy made for him back then, too. But he was the life of the party then and now, the kind of guy who would yell "TOGA" first and loudest. The kind of guy who would yell "Beer run!" even when the fridge was still fully stocked. The kind of guy still obsessed with completing a pub crawl 23 years later. For Gary, finishing the crawl is more than just a flight of fancy. He considers his failure to do so the first time around the temporal junction point from which all things in his life went wrong. But he doesn't share that with the guys (who also include Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan). Instead, he lies, deceives and outright bullies them into joining him on his quest. Pegg gives a fantastic, no-holds-barred performance here, arguably the best of his career. Gary is alternately hilarious, pathetic, arrogant and vulnerable. He's pushing 40, but he still tries to walk and talk with the swagger and bravado he had at 17. Lately, though, he's gone Mannilow. He's been up and down and trying to get the feeling again, and we sense there is something far darker lurking beneath the surface of his mania. He's such a big personality that he comes close to dominating the film. But Frost, Considine, Freeman and Marsan are such seasoned performers that they have no problem developing supporting characters that end up really resonating over the course of a nearly two-hour narrative. You come to really enjoy spending time with these blokes. Yes, I said blokes. You can't help but talk a wee bit British after seeing a Wright-Pegg-Frost production, with words like "Bollocks!" and "Blimey!" working their way into your everyday speak. It's probably annoying the wife. But that saucy bird is gettin' more blinkered with each passing year. And then the film turns. There is a sci-fi element to the second and third acts of this film that you're either going to go with or you're not. I went with it, and I loved that co-screenwriters Wright and Pegg never lost sight of their characters even when their film's more fantastical elements kicked in. If anything, the malarkey about aliens and android replicates and apocalyptic threats only serve to bring these five guys closer together and expose even more of their flaws, their petty beefs and their wonderfully endearing eccentricities. And, for the most part, they NEVER stop drinking. They keep the pub crawl going against all logic. And, by the end, a couple of them are practically knee-crawling sloshed. It's been a truly dreary summer at the movie theaters. So, the tendency is to over-praise when you get a movie like "The World's End" that is fresh and funny and doesn't lose its sense of self amid the action and special effects. It's bloody smashing! Cheerio!

"The World's End" is rated R for language, sexual references and violence.


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