Ah, Simon Pegg. You gave us the endearling, geeky flat-share sitcom Spaced. You gave us the gloriously outlandish zombie horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead, the first and best of the blood and ice cream trilogy. Then it sort of went a bit downhill. Well, maybe it didn’t. Maybe my expectations were just too high. The second installment of the trilogy, Hot Fuzz, was for me at least, a massive disappointment.
So don’t even get me started on Run Fatboy Run or How to Lose Friends and Alienate people or Burke and Hare or the mind-numbingly pointless Paul. Besides the odd comic turn bit parts in films like Star Trek, and Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, I’d pretty much lost faith. I’d almost resigned myself to re-watching Spaced and Shaun in the hope of saving myself from another let down.
Then The World’s End was released. Having seen the other two Cornetto films I thought it was only right to see the final chapter, so when the DVD was released I put it on my list. Last week it arrived. I nervously put the disc in the DVD player, sat back and pressed play and waited for the badness to begin.
The World’s End is the story of 40 year-old Gary King (Pegg), an unlovable loser who basically bullies a group of old school friends, whom he hasn’t seen in years, into returning to their hometown in order to complete The Golden Mile. Now, The Golden Mile is a mile long pub crawl, encompassing 12 pubs. The challenge is to drink a pint in each pub. So far, so much like the plot of a two-part ITV comedy drama, right? Wrong!
From the very beginning it’s clear that Gary is a total tosser, and it seems his friends are better off having lost touch with him. When they reunite, Gary is the only one who hasn’t moved on – he’s essentially still a teenage boy. Old bitterness and recriminations soon surface but there’s no time to dwell on that because there’s something wrong with the townsfolk… I won’t say any more about what happens in case you want to find out for yourself.
Cornetto stalwart Nick Frost is here, along with Sherlock’s Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine from the brilliant Shane Meadows film, Dead Man’s Shoes. In fact, you might be hard pressed to spot a familiar face (and there are many) which hasn’t appeared at least once before in the Cornetto films, or Spaced, or both.
If this had been released after Shaun, I’m well aware I may actually have been disappointed. At that point, I expected great things from Pegg (it’s probably fair to mention his partner Edgar Wright, it isn’t all on Pegg’s shoulders) and The World’s End isn’t a great film. It is quite good, though. Or at least, I think it’s quite good, perhaps in part because I thought it wouldn’t be. Therein lies the true joy of low expectations.