Susan Granger's review of 'The World's End'
In advance of the nationwide opening of the newest installment in this trilogy of British comedies, several theaters have booked marathon back-to-back showings of "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) and "Hot Fuzz" (2007). Known as the "Three Flavours: Cornetto," all were directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and each has an ice cream cone cameo.
In this newest episode, five former high school friends decide to reunite and complete an epic pub crawl that they first attempted 20 years ago. Wearing the exactly the same trench coat and black Sisters of Mercy T-shirt and driving the same car, middle-aged yet still immature man/child Gary King (Pegg) is the instigator. He recruits sensible, now sober for 16 years, corporate lawyer Andy (Nick Frost), whose friendship he'd lost in an accident; pretentious real estate agent Oliver (Martin Freeman); mild-mannered, married Peter (Eddie Marsan); and fun-loving, divorced architect Steven (Paddy Considine) to quaff a pint in all 12 pubs on what's called the Golden Mile of Newton Haven.
They finish their marathon at the aptly named The World's End. But there are unexpectedly sinister, sci-fi complications lurking in their hometown. All the pubs are now identical -- with fake ale/lagers on tap. And the usual residents have been replaced by ink-blooded, alien robots. Have these "five musketeers" become the human race's only and last chance for survival?
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Written by Wright and Pegg, it's fast-paced fun, filled with rapid-fire editing, IF you're familiar with the previous two movies. If not, it's, admittedly, a bit bewildering, particularly a discordant flash-forward. While "Shaun" riffed on zombie movies and "Hot Fuzz" parodied buddy-cop movies, this is more of an ensemble "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" effort -- with a surprise cameo. On the distaff side, Rosamund Pike ("Jack Reacher") turns up as Oliver's sister, a love interest for Gary and Steve, but she vanishes far too quickly.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The World's End" is a silly, stylized, slapstick 6. For aficionados, I suppose the apocalyptic British romp is ridiculously amusing.