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The World's End

Over the course of four days, I will participate in 4 fantasy football drafts.  Last year I was also in 4 leagues, and 3 the year before that.  I have been an avid fantasy football fan for a decade.  Yet in all this time, despite playing over 20 ‘seasons’ via all the different leagues, I have only taken first place twice and I have never taken top 3 in any of the money leagues I’ve participated in.

But I still do it.  I can’t help myself.  I love football and this gives me the perfect excuse to watch every game I possibly can.  I think back to the time, years ago now, when I actually won a league and it fills me with a warm fuzzy feeling.  I want that feeling again, and I’m willing to drive myself nuts to get it.

This gives me something in common with Gary King (Simon Pegg), the main character in The World’s End.  Gary also wants to relive the past so that he can once again feel what it was like to be on top of the world.  In his case, he wants to relive the greatest day of his life when 20 years ago he and 4 of his best mates attempted the Golden Mile, a 12-bar pub crawl.  Why?  Because nothing else has ever come close to the rush of euphoria, happiness and togetherness brought about on that fateful night.

In order to accomplish this, he needs to get all four of his friends to agree to come with him back to their home town of Newton Haven, a dead-end place that the other four were desperate to escape.  Fortunately, Gary has always been a bit of a rogue, so he has no difficulty lying to each and every one of them, saying exactly what they need to hear in order to agree to come along.

Eventually, he gets the ‘gang’ back together, and all five of them embark on a mission to complete the crawl that they had all failed at 20 years ago.  Unfortunately there are problems both within and without the group of erstwhile companions.

First and foremost is the fact that Gary really is stuck at 17.  He’s gone nowhere with his life and is incredibly selfish, plus he’s genuinely unable to wrap his head around anything that does not conform to his view of the world.

Meanwhile, his old friends have their own problems.  Andy Knightly (Nick Frost), the former rugby player and tough guy of the group is now 16 years sober after a horrible accident that distanced him from Gary for what he thought would be forever.  Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) went from being Gary’s music partner to a divorcee who still longs to date the sister of Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), who himself doesn’t remember the past all that fondly.  Finally, Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) is still as insular and quiet as ever, still afraid of bullies and confrontation.

The one thing all four of them have in common is a disdain for the fact that while they are all successful in their respective fields, Gary is still exactly the same as he was two decades ago.

Once they get to Newton Haven, however, they do their best to get along with Gary in attempt to complete the Golden Mile and perhaps mend a few broken friendships.  Unfortunately, all that slowly fades into the background as they learn that the inhabitants of their old town seem to have been replaced with robotic creatures.  (Don’t call them robots, that’s insulting.)

While four of them are perfectly willing to get the hell out of the town right then and there, Gary wants to pretend that all is well and complete the Golden Mile come hell or high water.  Out of a combination of pity and old friendship, the rest of the gang agree to go along, despite things getting more and more out of hand.

On top of all that, Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike) shows up and is also put into harm’s way.

The thing I like about The World’s End is how director Edgar Wright continues to seamlessly blend action, comedy and special effects.  During fight scenes, you are almost convinced that they built perfect automatons, such is the realism on display when the companions pull off limbs, bust heads and break bodies.  Yet despite all the action and mayhem, there is still plenty to chuckle and laugh at.

As usual, everyone brings their A game, falling into their role with wild abandon even if it’s against type.  Nowhere else is that more evident than the role of Gary.  Simon Pegg plays a very different person from his usual fare, becoming a selfish, lying ass willing to do anything to get what he wants.  For most of the film there is absolutely no redeeming quality in his character, to the point that I kind of wanted him to shut up and get killed halfway through the movie.

The difficult part of reviewing The World’s End is trying not to compare it to the other two films in the ‘Cornetto trilogy’ as all three explore the themes of conformity, what it’s like to be an outcast and how people deal with an external menace.  Fortunately I’m confident that there will be a hundred dissertations out there by the end of the week, so I don’t have to worry about it.

While last week’s Kick-Ass 2 was supposedly the last big ‘blockbuster’ film of the summer, I truly believe that The World’s End is the last must-see movie of the summer.

The World’s End: A