'World's End' Finishes Comic Trilogy On A High Note

Bob Mondello reviews the new British comedy The World's End, about a nostalgic pub crawl that turns unexpectedly lethal.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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And Audie Cornish. Actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright have already scored hits with two film parodies, the zombie flick "Shaun of the Dead," and a buddy-cop follow-up, "Hot Fuzz." Now they've made the third and final part of a comic trilogy. It's called "The World's End," which certainly sounds final, but critic Bob Mondello says they're ending on a high note.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: We all have something we regret never finishing in our youth - a model airplane, guitar lessons. For Gary King, that unfinished something is a pub crawl that he and his four best buds set off on years ago, hoping to hit all 12 of their town's bars in one heroic evening. Youthful hijinks long left behind, expect by Gary, who is a bit clueless about the growing-up thing and who hatches a plan to round up the old gang and try again.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM "THE WORLD'S END")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Five guy, 12 pubs, fifty pints.

SIMON PEGG: Sixty pints.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ooh. Steady on, you alkie.

NICK FROST: I haven't had a drink for 16 years, Gary.

PEGG: You must be thirsty then. It'll be just like it always was, except this time we're going to finish this thing once and for all.

FROST: You have a very selective memory, Gary.

PEGG: Thanks.

FROST: You remember the Friday nights. I remember the Monday mornings.

PEGG: Yeah, that's why we're going back on a Friday.

FROST: It's pointless arguing with you.

PEGG: Exactly. So come.

MONDELLO: Reluctantly, all four buddies do, heading back to their small town for a night of nostalgia that turns out to be anything but. Pubs gone corporate. Town exactly as they remember and yet, somehow not. Writer/director Edgar Wright is riffing here on the male overgrown-adolescent vibe of films from "Diner" to "40-Year-Old Virgin," but with an emphasis on briskness.

Whether Gary, who is played by Simon Pegg, is selecting an ale.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM "THE WORLD'S END")

PEGG: Is it nutsy? Is it foamy? Is it hoppy? Does it have a surprisingly fruity note which lingers on the tongue?

MONDELLO: Or hitting on a buddy's sister.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM "THE WORLD'S END")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What are you doing?

PEGG: What are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm going to the toilet.

PEGG: Well, then so am I.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Gary, are you serious? I haven't seen you in 20 years. Do you really think I'm going to have sex with you in the ladies' toilet?

PEGG: Well, the disableds is out of order.

MONDELLO: For a good half of the movie, the curdling of what in most films would be buddy flick nostalgia is good for laughs and some nicely bittersweet moments. Then comes a twist that the filmmakers have asked reviewers to do no more than hint at, so here's your hint.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM "THE WORLD'S END")

PEGG: Have you noticed anything creepy about the twins, apart from the fact that they're twins?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Just because they're twins doesn't necessarily make them creepy.

PEGG: It does a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You had sex with them.

PEGG: A, I did not and, B, how did you know about that?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A, it's a small town, B, I'm not stupid. And C, they told me.

PEGG: Right. Well, I did once, but I was wasted, which was creepy 'cause it was like there was four of them. I'm not proud of it. I am a bit.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Is this what you wanted to tell me?

PEGG: No. This is.

MONDELLO: There is something weird about the twins, something that will fuel a barroom brawl until it goes quite literally global, that will let director Wright take a leap into another genre entirely and that will allow "The World's End" to spin into ever grander comic mayhem, even as it becomes a surprisingly affecting look at the folly of trying to recapture one's youth. I'm Bob Mondello.

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