Cheers – The World’s End review

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By Simon Miraudo
July 22, 2013

Edgar Wright is one of the lucky few: a born filmmaker. Despite a minor set-back with the box office failure of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (though certainly not creative failure), he returns to the comforting embrace of co-conspirators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for the final instalment of their ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy, The World’s End. This is Wright and company’s variation on an invasion movie; an apocalyptic comedy with a title similar to another recent apocalyptic comedy (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This is the End). It’s unfortunate that the two funniest flicks of 2013 (so far) might be mistaken for one another. Seeing both twice is probably the safest move you can make in ensuring you reap the maximum number of laughs.

In an opening sequence that evokes the manic energy of an early Blur video – specifically, ‘Parklife’ – 40-year-old troublemaker Gary King (Pegg) recalls his debauched teen years. No longer in contact with his boyhood chums, he attempts to get the gang back together for one last hurrah. There’s family man Peter (Eddie Marsan), divorced contractor Steven (Paddy Considine), the perpetually Bluetooth-headset adorned Oliver (Martin Freeman), and Gary’s mild mannered former best friend Andrew (Frost), with whom he shares the most complicated past. They’re all reluctant to reunite, but some unfinished business beckons. Gary wants to complete an epic pub crawl across 12 bars in their home town, culminating at The World’s End. Leaving London and returning to their former stomping ground, they discover things have changed. No one seems to remember them. Did they really leave that little of a mark? Or is something more nefarious at play? They discover, with equal dismay, that both are true.

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With earlier efforts Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Wright, co-scripter Pegg, and good luck charm Frost elevated the art of spoofery, utilising their vast knowledge of cinema history to pay homage whilst still creating entertaining, surprising, potential classics of their own. Contrast this with Jason Seltzer and Aaron Friedberg – I may have gotten their surnames backwards; I refuse to Google for verification – who have made a living out of dressing up Carmen Electra as variations of different pop culture icons and having other characters point at her, declaring who it is exactly she is imitating. There is a canyon of quality betwixt them.

What is unique about The World’s End is that, despite continuing in the tradition of drowning viewers with a deluge of film references, it’s a less frenetic affair than what’s come before. The fight sequences – between whom I shan’t spoil – even seem to come at half speed. This is a tale of middle-aged men desperately attempting to reclaim their youth, and failing remarkably; stubborn gents dreading the world changing around them, and forcing the world to acquiesce to their demands (imbibing more and more alcohol when their pleas fall on deaf ears). Sluggish is not a word that could ever accurately be attributed to an Edgar Wright feature. However, there is a an appropriate lag here to complement the characters’ lessened energy reserves.

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The same goes for the attitudes of our heroes; an intensely appealing quintet, each of whom could be described as puppy-dog sad. Wright’s previously imbued his works with core relationships that were heartfelt and real, yet never this heartbroken. As a result, The World’s End feels like a transition piece. No longer a twenty-something wunderkind, as he closes in on 40, so too does his artistic concerns. What will an ‘Edgar Wright at 50’ film feel like? At 60? After the exuberant, youthful Scott Pilgrim, it was hard to imagine what Wright would do once crossing the threshold of middle age. His latest suggests he can retain his unique, uncanny idiosyncrasies, whilst growing ever more thoughtful, and perhaps even wise. Don’t worry: this thing is still wickedly funny.

The World’s End might be the least of the Cornetto Trilogy’s instalments; that is not so much a slight as it is a compliment to its predecessors. Besides closing on a downbeat final note – as opposed to Shaun and Fuzz‘s ebullient endings – this is a good old time at the movies, the kind only a born filmmaker can provide.

4/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

The World’s End arrives in Australian cinemas August 1, 2013.

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