Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Film Review: The World's End (2013)

I'll get the most important item out of the way first: this is the least funny of the so-called Cornetto Trilogy by the triumvirate of actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright. However, that still makes it a better than average comedy. It's not as LOL funny as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but it's always amusing and it's hands down the raunchiest, funniest, most violent episode of Dr Who ever. The thumbnail plot description is that five old friends (sort of) reunite for a pub crawl in a small English town and have a spot of bother with some aliens. If there's a link between all three films in the trilogy it's that in each case our heroes end up in a life and death struggle with the middle-class locals. There may be a Marxist, beware-the-bourgeoisie message in there somewhere, and if so I'm all for it.

Even though The World's End isn't a great comedy, it deserves respect for being smartly written. Unlike the normal run of comedies this is a film that's trying to get its laughs with wit and wordplay. The jokes don't always work, or they just raise a smile, but it's nice to see a comedy that isn't aggressively stupid or mining the gross-out vein, which, of course, means Adam Sandler's nowhere in sight. And what does it say about the current state of action films that this middling budget comedy shows more style and flair in the running, jumping, thumping people department than most films with ten times its budget.

If there's one person who deserves special mention here it's Simon Pegg. It's no surprise he's funny, but it's becoming clearer with every film he does that he's also a fine actor. His character in the film is loud, brash and obnoxious, but the subtle way in which Pegg uses facial expressions to show thoughts and emotions is outstanding. And his vocal work is even better. This guy has a great voice; listen carefully and you hear an actor you should be taking a stab at the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V. In relation to this, watch the film's final scene, which features Pegg, and take note of what looks like a reference to King Arthur. The only footnote I'd add to Pegg's performance is that his character of Gary King, and even his performance, seems slightly modeled on Rik Mayall's turn as Richie Richards in the Brit sitcom Bottom. That's not a bad thing. So here's hoping the next chapter in the Cornetto cycle of films is Macbeth. Now there's a chap who had some trouble with the locals.

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