Film review: The World’s End

posted at 9:31 am on September 8, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

When he was 17 years old, Gary King was The King of his set of mates in Newton Haven, leading them on an unsuccessful attempt to hit all twelve pubs in a one-night crawl as adulthood arrived.  The King’s friends grew up and moved on, but it’s been all downhill since for Gary.  Twenty years later, he shows up in his friends’ lives out of the blue to re-enact that last act of defiant youth, and somehow convinces them do to it.  But the town of Newton Haven has changed a lot since they left — and it’s not just their famous organic farming, either.  Will the Five Musketeers make it to the twelfth pub known as the World’s End — and will that actually be the end of the world?

I missed The World’s End two weeks ago when it first hit the theaters, and I somehow missed the trailers, too.  My best friend since high school lives on my street, but we don’t get together often enough these days, so I suggested that he and I go see the film yesterday when both of us were in town at the same time.  That turned out to be an ideal combination to see the latest absurdist film from the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It’s the perfect film to see with old friends, especially for those who really love a good laugh at the thought of reliving one’s youth and, er, becoming Starbucks-ized pod people.  But I get ahead of myself…

The World’s End might be the most hilarious film since There’s Something About Mary. Since I didn’t know anything about the film, the major plot twist midway took me by complete surprise, and I found myself repeating the same “WTF?” expressed by most of the characters up to that point.  Just when audiences think they know where the film is going, it changes directions again. The intense action marries up well with the laughs, and The World’s End keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

The film’s cast is brilliant, and while it is an ensemble, Simon Pegg is still the linchpin as Gary King.  Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan offer distinct personalities and hilarious performances, and Rosamund Pike is terrific as Freeman’s sister and the object of desire for both Pegg and Considine. Bill Nighy does an uncredited cameo as a voice-over near the end, and David Bradley as the presumably crazy Basil is also a stand-out.  The dialogue is sharp, witty, and engaging, and the emotional connections to the characters is surprisingly strong as a result.

To say more about the plot would be to offer too many spoilers.  It may be a little late for some to get into the theater to see The World’s End, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you owe it to yourself.  Just remember to find some old friends and enjoy the memories as well as the film.  On the 5-point Hot Air scale, The World’s End gets an unqualified 5:

  • 5 – Full price ticket
  • 4 – Matinee only
  • 3 – Wait for Blu-Ray/DVD/PPV rental or purchase
  • 2 – Watch it when it hits Netflix/cable
  • 1 – Avoid at all costs

The World’s End is rated R, mostly for bad language, although the MPAA also includes sexual references.  There isn’t any nudity, however, and the language isn’t much different from what I recall in high school, either.  It’s definitely not for kids or young teens, but older teens should be able to handle it … except for the realization of what they might look like twenty years from now.

Update: Great point from eforhan in the comments: “The World’s End is one of the most liberty-loving, anti-groupthink movies I’ve seen in recent years.” Indeed it is, which is what I hinted at with the sub-hed on the front page, but it’s impossible to explain without giving away too much.


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I bet they wished they had a 12 man Peddle Pub to help with the crawl.

Flange on September 8, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Flange on September 8, 2013 at 9:44 AM

It might have come in handy, actually!

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 9:46 AM

An interesting remark about “Starbucks-ized pod people”, especially considering the film’s denouement. Perhaps the price of the advancement of civilization is a certain emasculating over-domestication, or so it seems … until some Mom-Pants wants to bomb Syria.

M240H on September 8, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Gonna see it…with some old pals. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are two of my favorite movies.

Thanks for the review Ed.

workingclass artist on September 8, 2013 at 9:51 AM

its too much work to decipher their accent.

renalin on September 8, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Loved the review, Ed, and can’t wait to see it. But, today, I’m ready for some football!!!

Looking forward to your first 2013 NFL thread, too. ;-)

TXUS on September 8, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Run Fatboy Run was funny – it had Simon Pegg as the protagonist.

22044 on September 8, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Hilarious movie, I loved it. I can watch these over and over and still pick up new jokes. Hot Fuzz is still my favorite of the three, though…”You wanna be a big cop in a small town? F**k off up the model village.”

Kevin71 on September 8, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Don’t know if I thought this was as great as Hot Fuzz, but it comes close. It was definitely more fun, but Hot Fuzz was more clever, I thought.

mintycrys on September 8, 2013 at 10:02 AM

its too much work to decipher their accent.

renalin on September 8, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Then the movie Snatch is probably right out.

LtGenRob on September 8, 2013 at 10:03 AM

The World’s End is one of the most liberty-loving, anti-groupthink movies I’ve seen in recent years.

I too was very happy I didn’t see the trailer. It gives away far too much.

eforhan on September 8, 2013 at 10:20 AM

its too much work to decipher their accent.

renalin on September 8, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Try to get a non-voice over copy of Mad Max.

Not a US cinema release hacked version, but an original Australian release version.

Was it really necessary to do that with Mad Max?

ajacksonian on September 8, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Snatch-the movie- was terrible.

CW on September 8, 2013 at 10:29 AM

It might have come in handy, actually!

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 9:46 AM

A Peddle Pub chase scene would be almost as good as the chase in Bullitt.

Flange on September 8, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Liked Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz. Especially, the shot out scene in Hot Fuzz in the end that spoofs all the action movies.

Oil Can on September 8, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Hah, this reminds me….I need to get my crew back together to complete the “drinking around the World” at Epcot Disney…we never did make it to the end, heh.

Alinsky on September 8, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Ed,
Interesting – is this something like a Return of the Secaucus 7/Big Chill/Breakfast Club setup, except it takes place during bar-hopping? If so, does it spend much time in men navel-gazing and weeping?

Sounds like an interesting premise, though.

whatcat on September 8, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Loved this movie.

“WE’RE ALL GARY KING”

“But you just said…”

“I KNOW WHAT I SAID!”

Flapjackmaka on September 8, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Simon Pegg is a platitude-blathering leftist. I won’t support him or any other leftist. I’ll get my entertainment elsewhere.

rrpjr on September 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

We were looking for something to do this afternoon and this looks like it may be it. Thanks.

erp on September 8, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Interesting – is this something like a Return of the Secaucus 7/Big Chill/Breakfast Club setup, except it takes place during bar-hopping? If so, does it spend much time in men navel-gazing and weeping?

It kind of skewers that kind of movie at first, but then it goes in a … different direction.

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 1:07 PM

I saw this last weekend and was pleasantly surprised at how laugh out loud funny it was!

hollygolightly on September 8, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Ed claims to be devoutly religious, but he sure likes a lot of very dirty films.

From http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/worlds-end.aspx

Searing language and reckless boozing lay over everything like filthy bar rags. Then, instead of any real comeuppance or resolution for man-child Gary and all the other obnoxious behavior on display, the movie simply gives something of a metaphorical nod to it all, a drunken lift of the comic glass before knocking back another pint … and flitting off into a whimsical sci-fi dénouement.

Ed took his buddy to see the film, but he didn’t bring the Lord Jesus Christ.

itsnotaboutme on September 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM

No nudity? No thanks!

Your Mamma loves me on September 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

@itsnotaboutme so you’re a high functioning mongoloid with your jeebus cristos insanity?

Your Mamma loves me on September 8, 2013 at 2:16 PM

I saw this last weekend and was pleasantly surprised at how laugh out loud funny it was!

hollygolightly on September 8, 2013 at 1:37 PM

How many pubs did you go to before you saw it?

rickv404 on September 8, 2013 at 2:21 PM

@rickv – None before, but enjoyed a few black IPAs at the restaurant down the street after ;)

hollygolightly on September 8, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Ed took his buddy to see the film, but he didn’t bring the Lord Jesus Christ.

itsnotaboutme

And yet, somehow, the world didn’t end.

xblade on September 8, 2013 at 3:04 PM

It’s funny this is the movie chosen because I saw it last night. I thought it was okay, but I wouldn’t say it was hilarious. And what’s with the Hot Fuzz fascination many have? I could barely get through the movie it was so boring and unfunny, yet some claim it’s the funniest movie ever. I don’t get it…and I have a pretty good sense of humor.

xblade on September 8, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Simon Pegg is a platitude-blathering leftist. I won’t support him or any other leftist. I’ll get my entertainment elsewhere.

rrpjr on September 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

That’s basically all actors, to some extent or another. They make a living saying things they think other people want to hear.

Count to 10 on September 8, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Ed claims to be devoutly religious, but he sure likes a lot of very dirty films.

From http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/worlds-end.aspx

“Searing language and reckless boozing lay over everything like filthy bar rags. Then, instead of any real comeuppance or resolution for man-child Gary and all the other obnoxious behavior on display, the movie simply gives something of a metaphorical nod to it all, a drunken lift of the comic glass before knocking back another pint … and flitting off into a whimsical sci-fi dénouement.”

Ed took his buddy to see the film, but he didn’t bring the Lord Jesus Christ.

itsnotaboutme on September 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM

And yet, somehow, the world didn’t end.

xblade on September 8, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Not yet, anyway.

@itsnotaboutme so you’re a high functioning mongoloid with your _____ ______ insanity?

Your Mamma loves me on September 8, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Since you asked, I am crazy about Jesus. :)

After all that he’s done for us, you’d have to be insane not to love him.

itsnotaboutme on September 8, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Ed claims to be devoutly religious, but he sure likes a lot of very dirty films. …

Ed took his buddy to see the film, but he didn’t bring the Lord Jesus Christ.

Good to see the pharisees are still around. Familiar with “Judge not, lest ye be judged”?

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Good to see the pharisees are still around. Familiar with “Judge not, lest ye be judged”?

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Oh, come on.
I really didn’t expect you to bring up The Most Abused Bible Quote Ever.
Please look at the entire passage.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Jesus went on to tell us how to judge.
Without hypocrisy.

itsnotaboutme on September 8, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Without hypocrisy? “I read someone else’s opinion about a film and that makes me an expert on how Christian you are!” I suggest you spend a lot more time reading about those Pharisees.

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 6:36 PM

@itsnotaboutme so you’re a high functioning mongoloid with your jeebus cristos insanity?

Your Mamma loves me on September 8, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Perhaps, and if true at least he’s “high functioning” – what’s the excuse for *your* mental deficiency?

Midas on September 8, 2013 at 6:37 PM

It’s funny this is the movie chosen because I saw it last night. I thought it was okay, but I wouldn’t say it was hilarious. And what’s with the Hot Fuzz fascination many have? I could barely get through the movie it was so boring and unfunny, yet some claim it’s the funniest movie ever. I don’t get it…and I have a pretty good sense of humor.

xblade on September 8, 2013 at 3:11 PM

I thought it was quite funny and very clever, though the use of the ‘f-word’ was a bit over the top, but that’s perhaps personal taste.

Midas on September 8, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Saw this yesterday. I liked it more than I thought I would, but it suffers from what many comedies — it didn’t know what it anted to be. The end was completely wrong for what the film was. Ends sort of like Blazing Saddles and Holy Grail, in a big mess.

On the judge lest ye be judge thing. You are certainly allowed to judge. Just remember that you will be judged by that standard.

This is fundamentally conservative in outlook and ultimately sad. Gary wasted his life in every way and thinks his redemption comes from finishing the pub crawl. Wrong place to look. There is nothing sadder than his conversation with Sam “At least we had the Disable’s”.

IdrilofGondolin on September 8, 2013 at 6:57 PM

IdrilofGondolin on September 8, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Exactly. Also, it’s really not too difficult to figure out that the bad behaviors in the film — drinking too much, indulging lust, etc – are the traps that lead to destruction in the film. In fact, that’s almost explicitly stated at the end, that temptation is how the overlords sucker in the humans. Of course, you have to actually watch the film to figure this out.

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Good to see the pharisees are still around. Familiar with “Judge not, lest ye be judged”?

Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Okay, I must admit, I think that our friend itsnotaboutme was a bit harsh in his statements toward you, particularly saying that you did not bring along Our Lord Jesus Christ.

However, “judge not, lest ye be judged” does not mean what is often said to mean. Christ taught against judging the state of an individual’s soul. In simple terms, we are not supposed to impugne another’s character. However, we are certainly able to judge another’s actions. Christ, in fact, teaches us the proper way to judge said actions.

I have not seen this particular film. And I would not dare to offer an opinion as to the internal state of your soul, or even your character. However, your movie reviews have, IMHO, shown a pattern of willingness to accept the types of immoral films put out on a routine basis by the Hollywood left on grounds similar to “well, it’s not as bad as it COULD have been” or “if you look hard enough, you can find a glimmer of a good point in there.”

Personally, I think we conservatives, and especially we Catholic and other Christian conservatives, should be starving, not supporting, the beast that is Hollywood.

Shump on September 8, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Ed claims to be devoutly religious, but he sure likes a lot of very dirty films.

itsnotaboutme on September 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM

“Oh, f**k off, grasshopper.” – Reverend Shooter

You’re going to come in here and question Ed’s Christianity based on a movie review you read without actually having seen the movie yourself? I think you are reacting to the methods used to deliver the message (booze, cursing, humor) while missing the messages being delivered.

Kevin71 on September 8, 2013 at 9:02 PM

Ugh, messed up the quote tags.

Kevin71 on September 8, 2013 at 9:03 PM

Simon Pegg is a platitude-blathering leftist. I won’t support him or any other leftist. I’ll get my entertainment elsewhere.

rrpjr on September 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

If I avoided every piece of entertainment by a performer who’s politics I disagree with, I would be stuck listening to country music and only watching Kirk Cameron movies.

Which, come to think about it, isn’t as bad as it sounds…

Johnny 100 Pesos on September 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

The World’s End might be the most hilarious film since There’s Something About Mary.

You’ve just made me not want to watch this movie with one sentence.

Shaun Of The Dead was hilarious. There’s Something About Mary was just cheap, easy humor, if you want to call it that.

Sterling Holobyte on September 9, 2013 at 3:46 PM