Five childhood friends (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman) reunite 20 years after an epic pub crawl when one of them decides it's time they tried to repeat the feat. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realise the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind's. Reaching The World's End is the least of their worries as they become the only hope for survival.
The blueprint for The World’s End came about, as many inspired ideas do, in Australia: long-time collaborators Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost had been kicking around the idea of a pub crawl film for close to a decade but hadn’t thought the entire story through. Then, whilst waiting at a baggage carousel at Sydney Airport during the promo tour for Hot Fuzz, it all came together.
takes the larrikinism to a new level
'What if," Wright remembers brainstorming with Pegg, 'for the first five minutes you had these five guys in 1990 and then flashed forward with them trying their quest again as adults and some otherworldly event happens? We started talking it through, and started to figure out what the cosmic intervention might be."
That would be a second cosmic intervention, following Wright’s hiring in 1998 by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to direct the immensely popular British TV show Spaced. That collaboration led to the 2004 international hit Shaun of the Dead and its 2007 follow-up, the aforementioned Hot Fuzz. (Collectively, Wright calls the films 'The Three Flavours: Cornetto’ trilogy, in reference to the supposedly restorative powers the confection has battling hangovers; Pegg prefers the blunter 'Blood and Ice Cream’ moniker).
Then, success happened: Wright directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and co-wrote Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, whilst Pegg and Frost wrote and starred in Paul, and Pegg took up the wise-cracking sidekick role in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek and Mission Impossible franchises.
Now, nearly a decade after Shaun of the Dead, the mates return to their roots and proved that success hasn’t spoiled their comic energy. Snappy writing and rat-a-tat delivery has always been the key to their mashups of genre and comedy, and The World’s End not only is of a piece with that approach but one that takes the larrikinism to a new level; the film plays as if the Preston Sturges of Sullivan’s Travels and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek returned to his early 1940s glory and embraced the tropes of horror and science fiction—specifically such beloved 1960s British touchstones as the Quartermass films and Village of the Damned, as well as the work of writers John Wyndham (The Day of the Triffids) and John Christopher (The Death of Grass).
The five chums in question are obnoxiously cheerful man-child ringleader Gary (Pegg) and the dubious but game Andy (Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan). Along for the ride is Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), for whom Gary and Steven still carry a torch.
As they make their way through the dozen pubs on the route, it becomes increasingly obvious things aren’t what they seem in the bucolic village of Newton Haven. This provides Wright, Pegg and Frost to indulge their inner geeks with sci-fi references galore and a few pub brawls.
No spoilers here, but the expected cameos include one veteran British actor known for playing against type in comedy parts. For the purists out there, Wright fought for, and won, the right to shoot The World’s End on 35mm film. In life and in art, their comic hearts are, for the moment, in the right place.