Besides “Toy Story 3,” when is the last time you saw a trilogy with a good third film? It’s not very common. Not every series can have its “Bourne Ultimatum” or “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Then again, not every series involves the brilliant comedic minds of Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. Their finale to the so-called Cornetto Trilogy, “The World’s End,” is a fitting send-off for a hilarious group of movies.
The plot revolves around Gary King (Simon Pegg), a hopeless loser whose desperate need to live in the past is met with exasperation by his friends. Twenty years before the movie starts, King and his buddies attempted a famous pub crawl in their hometown of Newton Haven. They were unsuccessful, and an almost 40-year-old King wants to try again and make it to the final pub, The World’s End. He drags his reluctant mates back to Newton Haven, but it isn’t long before they realize something is amiss in this quiet hamlet. The townspeople are acting odd, and it is up to these hammered heroes to figure out what is going on.
For the most part, the film is truly captivating. Director Edgar Wright blends droll English humor, poignant dramatic moments and epic sci-fi action into one insanely over-the-top movie. It is refreshing to see a film so unpredictable — scenes of harmless bickering will suddenly turn into full-on fist-fights with bizarre blue-blooded creatures. These enjoyable twists make for a brisk pace and a film that does not overstay its welcome.
All the actors are at the top of their game, though Pegg and Frost steal the show. The duo switch roles from their previous movies, with Pegg embodying the role of an annoying slacker and Frost becoming the sensible hero. Frost is incredible throughout the film, running, leaping and beating the tar out of the robots — or are they aliens? I’m not entirely sure, but it honestly doesn’t matter when we’re having so much fun. He is completely believable as an action hero.
The script is a wonder, relying on a mix of quick comedic interplay and genuinely moving dramatic moments. There are some great comedic gems here, from the friends having to fight while inebriated to the group trying to come up with a name for the creatures — “smashy smashy egg-man” is my favorite.
Though the film is mostly a comedy, the script also doubles as a meditation on growing up and taking responsibility for your life. Pegg’s character is hilarious, but he also has a plethora of problems the film doesn’t shy away from addressing. You cannot keep living in the past, the film tells you, especially if doing so is hurting those you care about.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t quite measure up to Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead” or “Hot Fuzz.” The ending undercuts all of the greatness that came before. It feels tacked-on, clichéd and unfunny. Had the ending been stronger, I think this might have been the strongest film of the trilogy.
Despite its flaws, you should see “The World’s End.” It is a truly unpredictable and hilarious descent into the minds of some brilliant filmmakers.