Avoid The World's End if You Take Your Movies Clean with a Message
- Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 8 Aug
DVD Release Date: November 19, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: August 23, 2013
Rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references.
Genre: Action | Comedy | Sci-Fi
Run Time: 109 minutes
Director: Edgar Wright
Actors: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan
Twenty years ago, five friends attempted to celebrate the end of their school days with an epic pub crawl along their home town's "Golden Mile," a route with not one, not five, but twelve pubs along its path. They didn't make it to the final stop, a bar called The World's End, but a boozy good time was had by... some. Two decades later those boys are in their forties and most of them have grown into responsible adults. That's when their old ringleader convinces them to get back together and give the Golden Mile another go.
The World's End completes what writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright refer to as "The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy" that began with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Like the earlier films, The World's End is wildly inappropriate and seriously funny. It's so wrong in so many ways, all of them hilarious. Clearly this is not a film for movie-goers looking for a heart-tugging story or an uplifting message. Fans of British sci-fi (Doctor Who, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf, and the like) and British comedy, however, are likely to love it. The World’s End is packed with appalling examples of bad behavior—drinking to excess, drug use, irresponsibility of every conceivable kind—but somehow that just makes watching the guys fight off aliens all the more entertaining.
Oh yes: there are aliens. They're plastic-like robot creatures that look human until you realize their appendages twist off a la Barbie in the hands of an angry toddler. This is the single best thing about the movie, because it makes the fight scenes—which are many—absolutely hysterical. I don't know if there's an award category for "best bathroom brawl" but if there is The World's End gets my vote. Fortunately, the robots (a moniker they don't appreciate, by the way) have hollow heads and blue ink-like blood so even when dismembered they're funnier than they are scary. All this makes The World's End much like a cartoon with live people (and "live" aliens) in lieu of animated characters. That's why it's so tempting to overlook the atrocious behavior and just enjoy the silliness of it all (it helps that it's a British movie since profanity always sounds so much less offensive when delivered in a British accent).
The cast is a true ensemble; all five drinking buddies play off each other with razor-sharp timing and surprisingly nuanced performances. The instigator of their pub crawl is Gary King (Simon Pegg, Star Trek) a 40-year old man stuck "at the cigarette end of his teens" who hasn’t matured past what he fondly remembers as "the best night of my life." He's horrible... he's pathetic... he's... eventually mildly heroic. His friends (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) match him with emotional yo-yos of their own. With this many characters in play it could have been difficult to keep their stories straight but these guys are all so good at creating memorable characters that's never a problem.
Other notable performances include Pierce Brosnan (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), who proves he's retained both his sense of humor and striking good looks. Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher) manages to be both charming and tough as Sam, the love interest of more than one of the guys. And nobody does deliciously bored condescension like Bill Nighy (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), the voice of the aliens in the final showdown with humanity.
It's best not to take The World's End too seriously—or seriously at all. While it could be seen as a vote for free will over mindless compliance, the message is secondary to the humor. Just kick back, relax, and be thankful that the fate of the world really doesn’t rest on the shaky shoulders of Gary and company.
- Drugs/Alcohol: The storyline is built around a group of friends going on an epic pub crawl, so drinking and drunkenness are unavoidable. Smoking of both regular and 'specialty' tobacco. References to snorting cocaine. One man mocks another for not drinking.
- Language/Profanity: The f-word shows up repeatedly, sometimes paired with "mother." One character says "WTF" repeatedly and another (who uses the f-word frequently) asks "what does WTF mean?" Jesus' name taken in vain; "pedophile" used as a term of endearment; various body parts mentioned by multiple terms, many rude; several people described as cu** or bast***; he** and sh** spoken often.
- Sex/Nudity: Men shown urinating in toilet. Man asks his friends about sex and talks about having sex with multiple women; references made to having sex in restroom at bar, trying to "get in her pants," and having an erection. Man's bare behind briefly shown. Adult women dressed as naughty schoolgirls try to seduce men with erotic dancing, licking faces, and other such behavior. Woman tells man "I want you inside me." Casual sex is referred to as "cool at seventeen but not at forty." Several gestures clearly referring to the sex act.
- Violent/Frightening/Intense: While it is quite violent, it's all cartoon-like and over the top. The robots have hollow heads and inky 'blood' so it’s never explicit. Their appendages get ripped off, but they sometimes reattach them with comic effect. Humans are punched and tossed about but they're only banged up, not seriously injured. A man jumps off a building onto a car but is later shown to be fine.
- Spiritual Themes: When reminded that The Three Musketeers is fictional, Gary retorts "some people say that about the Bible" but later asserts "Jesus wrote the Bible."
Publication date: August 23, 2013