Craig's First Take: "The Worlds End"

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20 years after an epic pub crawl, five friends reunite to try the drinking marathon again. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind's. Reaching The World's End is the least of their worries.

I’ve never really noticed the Cornetto Ice Cream in the Cornetto trilogy of “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, and finally “The Worlds End” but it’s hard to miss the fact that Simon Pegg (Scotty in JJ Abrams “Star Trek”), Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright bring a lot of excitement, humor, and wild action to each one of these movies. This is obviously the end of the line for the trilogy but with any luck that doesn’t mean these guys have to stop making movies together.

Here Pegg plays Gary, a man who has never managed to stop living in his frat boy past. His great white whale would be conquering the Golden Mile, a 12-bar bar crawl in Newton Haven that he nearly completed as a teenager and is eager to get his friends to help him complete now. His buddies (Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine) have all moved on to being dutiful family men and doing the crawl again isn’t nearly as interesting to them as whether or not their fifth friend, Andy (Frost), will also be attending. It’s clear that an incident went down between Gary and Andy, something that ruined their friendship even though Gary still sees him as the best of his best friends.

Pegg leads the way here with a performance that is high on enthusiasm but that also showcases the highs and lows of this “searching for constant fun” lifestyle. He’s not afraid to play Gary as a selfish jerk, but he makes Gary a well-rounded one that you can sympathize with just a little bit. And Gary is actually really funny- running gags about his mother, his selective memory, and a special night he shared in the “disabled toilets” as a teenager all hit the mark. There’s also some witty stuff about scoring with girls and the Starbucks-ization of most bars nowadays. Freeman (“The Hobbit”), Marsan (“Ray Donavan”), Considine “The Bourne Ultimatum”), and especially Frost do a nice job of treating Gary as the fun-loving but also exhausting character that he is.

It would seem odd that a “Stepford Wives” type plot is about to break out here and it is a pretty big jump but it brings an added dose of fun. For some reason no one in the town recognizes them (particularly distressing to Gary because he sees himself as a legend for nearly completing the crawl as a teenager), but we soon realize that it’s because blue ink-blooded “somethings” have replaced the residents. It’s a confusing and creepy scenario that Edgar Wright plays to over-the-top perfection with fights and action sequences that are “smashing” and take on the comedic, impressively choreographed look of one of Jackie Chan’s funnier films. In order to not arouse suspicion, the guys continue like nothing is happening, hoping to figure out what has happened to the town.

There’s another odd shift in this film towards the end, where we learn new info about Gary and also new info about the sinister plot behind the Stepford beings and I think here is the point where the fine line between comedy and heavy-handedness breaks down and we don’t know what to think. But up until this point, Pegg works well in getting laughs and also going deeper as this sad, pathetic character and the rest of the cast offers fine support. “The Worlds End” is an odd duckling of a film that I think I’m still trying to figure out if it all holds together but what I’m positive of is that I enjoyed it, laughed at it, and have the urge to go back and watch all these movies again to play a “Wheres Waldo” game of where’s the ice cream?