The term “cult classics” usually refers to older films that failed to find an audience when they were first released but have since garnered a rabid following.
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have been busy making modern cult classics, as their first two films together — Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz — seem to have way more fans than their combined box office would have you believe.
Their latest, The World’s End, looks destined for similar cult classic status, as it subscribes to a similar esthetic as the first two films. It follows Gary King (Pegg), an unabashed alcoholic who revels more in his glory days as a teenager than in his current life.
Much of the hilarity in the film stems from things unique to Britain, such as pub culture.
With nothing better to do, he looks to gather his former best friends in an attempt at an epic pub crawl in their hometown they failed to finish 20 years earlier. But he and his buddies (played by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan) soon discover that you can never really go home again, since people can change in unexpected and sometimes shocking ways.
Critics were asked not to spoil any of the film’s secrets, but there’s not much that hasn’t already been spilled in the trailers and by the name of the movie itself. As in the first two films, the benign, bland exterior of the people they meet barely hides a violent underbelly, one that the quintet will have to fight if they want to achieve their quest.
On the surface, much of the hilarity in the film stems from things unique to Britain, such as pub culture, but Wright and Pegg, who co-wrote the film, do a great job of keeping the jokes accessible to all. There’s also the hugely relatable idea of one guy wanting to hang on to the past while all the others have seemingly moved on. The conflict that creates between the five is what truly drives the film, and what makes for some of its funniest moments.
It helps matters tremendously that the cast works so well together. All of the main five, save for Marsan, have worked with Wright and Pegg before, so there’s a unique chemistry that they have even while playing different kinds of characters. Pegg is the glue, though, and it’s his unhinged performance that keeps the film going even in its slow moments.
The so-called “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” comes to an end with a solid installment that ranks ahead of Hot Fuzz but below Shaun of the Dead. Wright and Pegg’s brand of funny is something everyone should experience before the world’s end.