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IN SHORT: Funniest f-bomb flinger of the year. [Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references. 109 minutes]
Beforfe we begin, this is important. If you have any objection to the use of a certain four letter word that begins with the sixth letter of our alphabet, stay far away from The World's End. Then wonder what you missed when everyone around you starts saying they laughed so hard they nearly wet themselves. (We're avoiding the use of another four letter word that begins with the letter "p" . . . oops)
It is a good thing to be American. While European history is filled with lists and geneologies and intermarriages, all of which establish the "glorious days" of a millenia ago when for reasons pretty much lost to time, certain persons were born into t he royal "Blue Blood" class and the rest of us wereleft as plain old working stiffs. We, with generic red blood, were forever banned from rising into the higher classes -- beautiful women excepted -- and got the privilege of fighting and laying down (our) lives in military battles which enhanced the financial holdings of the King and Kingdom and otherwise saved their world.
On the surface, The World's End has nothing to do with any of that. But . . .
By the time The World's End has finished, the story will have everything to do with all of that. So, assuming you haven't seen the television commercial which gives the big surprise in the film away, the basic story is that five friends, all of whom graduated an English public school twenty years earlier, reunite to accomplish the one task they couldn't achieve as young men . . . said task is to get themselves blind, stinking drunk by downing a pint of beer in each of a dozen "free houses" (the Brit equvalent of bars) along "The Golden Mile" of the town of Newton Haven, England. There's probably a joke somewhere in the names of the pubs, whose origin is lost to history. We didn't write them down. We were laughing too hard. And don't ask us to explain why Brits, who don't measure distance in "miles," call the route the "golden mile."
Again, we were laughing too hard to take notes. So before we get back to how funny this film is, do we need to remind any one reading these words that getting blind stinking drunk is something that, even for men in their forties, is a stupid idea? Of course, getting blind stinking drunk also makes good comedy movies so, excepting the fact that one of the five in this group is a teetotler and three have, essentially, grown up and accepted the responsibilities of their adult lives, something else is going to have to be at play to make The World's End work.
Something will. Trust us.
Don't necessarily trust Gary King (Simon Pegg), the mind behind this reunion. King is one person in five whose life has shown little forward movement in the last twenty years. Finishing this pub crawl will give Gary a sense of accomplishment. Yes, Gary's life is that pathetic. Meeting up at the Newton Haven train station: Steven (Paddy Considine), who once "battled" Gary for leadership of this band of brothers; Andy (Nick Frost), now a teetotaler thanks to the events of the first crawl; Oliver (Martin Freeman) with bluetooth permanently atttached to his ear; and Peter (Eddie Marsden) who, pretty much, tagged along both as a kidlet and now as an adult. Briefly add Oliver's younger sister Samantha (Rosamund Pike) to the mix -- Gary and Steven still yearn for the now single mother -- and you've got the cast of characters for what reads like an oppressively heavy drama in the old Miramax mold.
The World's End Is is anything but oppressively heavy. It is a comedy. One which, once you ignore the torrent of f-bombs, is the funniest film we've seen so far this year. (and Samantha could care less for either Gary or Steven or getting stinking drunk. That's just about all we'll tell you that isn't in the film's ads).
What appears to be strange to our Merry Gentlemen is that some of the long established town alcoholics -- those who should recognize our heroes, even twenty years on, at each pub . . . don't. That there are a group of five much younger wankers following the elder wankers around, and that these youngsters seem to resemble our "heroes" (so so speak) is a coincidence that won't make any sense until the big Third Act Surprise, which is not going to be spilt by this site. No way. No how.
Though here's a hint: If the film had been set in America, the film might have supplied a Rod Serling-type character to explain what, exactly, was going on. Cranky is dating himself and, yes, eventually the film will explain everything. But we're not telling.
Even if we had written a clever way to spill the beans we wouldn't. The big surprise that wraps The World's End is too outrageous to spill. Anyone that does should be hung by their toes and be tickled to death.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The World's End, he would have paid . . .
We laughed our self silly. So will you.
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