Following another summer filled with sequels, “The World’s End” represents a decidedly different take on the comedy franchise. Director Edgar Wright and his leading men collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return for their third — and possibly final — collaboration following 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead” and 2007’s “Hot Fuzz.”
What the semi-franchise lacks in returning characters or continuing plots, it more than makes up for in recurring gags, overarching themes and a delicious U.K.-specific dessert called a Cornetto. The film follows Pegg as a nostalgic alcoholic determined to get the gang back together for an epic pub crawl, which unexpectedly gets derailed by an otherworldly complication — to avoid spoilers with an understatement.
“The World’s End” proves that the third time is as much of a charm as the first and second, with critics praising the longtime collaborators as well as the ensemble they’ve assembled, including Bilbo Baggins himself, Martin Freeman. The comedy’s darker this time around, but it’s expertly handled by director Wright, whose energetic style has only gotten better with experience. This time around, the characters tackle as many real-world obstacles as they do out-of-this-world ones, and the result is a late-summer film that puts the rest of them to shame.
Here’s what critics are saying about “The World’s End”:
Hell of an Ending
“’The World’s End’ is the third of Wright’s genre-bending black comedies starring Pegg (who co-wrote it) and Frost, and it’s arguably the best — although who would want to argue over three such beautifully constructed social satires? In this one, Wright and Pegg take a mere half-hour to distill an entire subgenre of American child-man comedies … Wright is an even better director now, and the last half-hour of ’The World’s End’ is one bravura set piece after another. The action is brilliantly staged and shot, the climax evoking (and equaling) the dizzying nightclub opening of ’Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.’ The all-star cast is perfection.” — David Edelstein, New York Magazine
“The duo [Simon Pegg and Nick Frost] show a real gift for creating characters that can still bicker and needle each other in a very specific way even while running for their lives, and the blokes here get ample opportunity to do so. In large and small ways, this ensemble understands the rhythms of how old friends interact — and how easy it is to revert to your adolescent identity, no matter how far from it you’ve run as an adult … Pegg and Frost do some of their best work themselves, completely avoiding repetitions of their earlier collaborations with Wright; Frost gets to be the intelligent, responsible one this time out, while Pegg plays the boozy screw-up.” — Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
Jolt of Wisdom
“Concluding their whimsical ’Cornetto Trilogy’ of horrifying British foibles, which began with ’Shaun of the Dead’ in 2004 and continued with ’Hot Fuzz’ in 2007, writer/director Edgar Wright and his co-writer/actor Simon Pegg hit the finish line with pens and guns blazing. And whilst skillfully splicing comedy with sci-fi, ’The World’s End’ delivers a pleasant jolt: these guys have actually grown up … This movie isn’t just smart, it’s also wise.” — Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Summer’s Best Superhero Moment
“While it’s all incredibly energetic, the big win here is Pegg and Wright’s clever script. Indeed, the final showdown is a parry of put-downs reminiscent of Monty Python at the troupe’s peak. Some inner logic may not hold up under the sober light of day, but this unusual action-comedy has the loosey-goosey feel of something that can’t miss, like a soused round of bar pool. The final triumph: In a summer full of capes and masks, beer-bellied Frost tears off his shirt a la the Hulk. It’s this season’s best superhero moment.” — Jordan Hoffman, New York Daily News
So Edgar Wright
“Few filmmakers working today make movies with quite the same enthusiasm as Wright does. His work is vivid and exuberant, as if he is having fun doing it and more than anything wants to share that feeling, from one fan to another. Audacious and witty, ’The World’s End’ is a strange brew. It is debatable whether this is Wright’s best film — like a favorite band whose best albums can shift about, the list changes based on time and mood — but it is likely the most Edgar Wright of Edgar Wright’s films.” — Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
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