The World’s End is the last in a trilogy of comedies from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright which includes Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. Like its predecessors, The World’s End takes a familiar action genre, in this case apocalyptic alien invasion and sets it in Middle England with absurd and delightful consequences.
Simon Pegg plays Gary King, once the cool rebel in school who finds himself struggling to settle into adulthood and lives with the memory of one glorious, alcohol fuelled night when he and his friends set out to try and drink a pint of beer in each of the twelve pubs in their home town. They failed to do so, but the adventures they had along the way and the feeling of invincibility King felt as he watched the sun rise the next morning have stayed with him ever since.
King decides to reunite his group of school friends and try to successfully complete that fateful pub crawl. The problem is, twenty years have now passed and all his now estranged school friends have settled into responsible adult jobs, including Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) a real estate agent and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), partner in a law firm.
Once the friends are reunited they soon realise something is not quite right in their former hometown. At first it’s the feeling many of us have when returning to the place where we grew up, a feeling that the passing of time has made everything feel more generic, less special. But soon, The World’s End takes a surprising and very funny turn, as the extent to which the King and his friend’s former hometown has changed becomes apparent.
As an exploration of the themes of ageing and mid life, The World’s End plays it light, safe and breezy. The focus is more on addressing the pangs of nostalgia and feelings of lost youth that come with early midlife, rather than the darker shadows of impending old age.
Not that it matters, because this coming of midlife comedy is really more about entertainment than introspection. The World’s End is an outrageous, over the top comedy, a fitting end to a trilogy of films which have consistently brought us plenty of laughs and lots of enjoyment and a thoroughly delightful experience.