a, Arts & Entertainment

Drinking like there’s no tomorrow

If  there is one lesson to be learned from all three features writ- ten by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg in the last decade, it is that looks are always  deceiving.  In Shaun of the Dead (2004), the titular Shaun treks to the  corner  store  to buy  Cornettos— the U.K. equivalent of Drum- sticks, and a recurring motif in each of the films— oblivious  to the fact that a zombie  apocalypse is occur- ring around him. Similarly, Hot Fuzz (2007)  played  upon  the  superficial innocence  of a sleepy English  village. The creative duo revisits these themes of lurking malevolence in The World’s End, this time waxing Sci-Fi while simultaneously exploring one man’s yearning to return to his golden youth. The result does not disappoint.

Pegg  stars  as  Gary King,  a 40-year-old alcoholic deadbeat who tries to relive the greatest night of his life by dragging his high school bud- dies,  now  successful  businessmen, back  to  his  hometown  of  Newton Haven. They plan to finish the ambitious 12-stop pub crawl, culminating at the aptly named ‘World’s End’ that they failed to complete 20 years ear- lier. Yet an unlikely obstacle stands in their way: body-snatching  aliens have settled in Newton Haven. The concept   works   brilliantly   as   we watch King gallop from pub to pub, his  resentful  friends  trailing  along behind him and berating his idiocy as they are forced to battle with malicious humanoids.

Also  key to this film’s appeal are  excellent  performances  on  the part  of Pegg  and the remainder  of the  film’s  entire   supporting   cast. Pegg    perfectly    portrays    King’s groan-inducing immaturity and desperate nostalgia as he enters middle age, while his buddies provide other moments  of  hilarity.  Martin  Free- man  is excellent  as the  Bluetooth-sporting  Oliver,  whose  catchphrase — “Double-you  tee eff, Gary!?”— gets increasingly hilarious with each repeated exclamation.

If The World’s End has a weak-ness, it’s that it tries to cram so much material   into   its   modest   running time of 109 minutes that the viewer can sometimes  feel left in the dust. Wright  and Pegg seek to bring the audience up to speed by kicking off the film with a delightfully  kitschy prologue   telling   the   whole   story of  the  legendary  1990  pub  crawl through  King’s  eyes.  But  because the sequence  moves so  rapidly and we get so little time with each character,  it’s  frustrating  to  figure  out which friend is which in the present- day scenes that follow.

Luckily, we have Wright’s dynamic  directing  style to keep us engrossed  from start to finish. That being  said, Wright offers nothing new here stylistically;  almost all of the   ingenious   techniques   he  uses are recognizable  from his previous work. Also reused are a number of sight gags: characters  find creative ways to finish off their inhuman foes just as they did in Shaun of the Dead, and turn their heads only to be met with the creepy, synchronized stares of the townspeople  just as they did in Hot Fuzz. Nevertheless, the visual gags have been used just sparingly enough that they still feel fresh and entertaining  here.  Moreover,  some of  them— like when King tries to jump over a fence and  instead knocks it over (a trilogy trademark) —are clearly intended to be winking tributes rather than lazy repeats.

The  World’s End doesn’t try to hide the fact that it owes a great deal to its predecessor  and to classic Sci-Fi staples like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and  Doctor Who. In the end, it doesn’t need to, since Wright and Pegg have the imaginative potency to make even the most recognizable movie clichés feel new again.

The World’s End was released on Aug. 23 and is currently playing at the Scotiabank Theatre on 977 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest.

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