An odd topic to make a comedy out of, we had not one, but two comedies come out this year using apocalyptic settings for comedies. One being the gross-out, celebrity satire This is the End from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and the other being The World’s End, Edgar Wright’s third film teaming up with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It only seemed fitting to have a nice double feature for the two back to back, and believe me, many fits of laughter ensued...
This is the End:
With a movie cast like this, you’d swear Judd Apatow was involved. Indeed, This is the End is the biggest film Apatow himself never had any hand in making. The film’s huge ensemble cast star as exaggerated versions of themselves, caught up in the middle of the rapture, trying their best to survive, and not kill each other in the process.
The cast of stars and cameo appearances in this movie is just staggering. James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, the list goes on. Just get Paul Rudd and Kristen Wiig, and you’ve got a complete set. Pointing out all the who’s who of talent in the film is fun in itself, and the cast lend themselves effortlessly to the film’s best quality. The film is genuinely, hysterically funny. The chemistry felt scene by scene is just riotous, from gross-out gags, to references to the actors’ previous films (everything from Harry Potter to Spider-Man 3), even to Emma Watson wielding an axe. They just enjoy making mockeries out of themselves throughout, and their antics had me laughing more than any film this year. However, that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t hit low points. While the film is quite hysterical, there are still jokes that fall flat, and when they fall, they practically die. Still, those points are few and far between, and minor gripes to an otherwise wild ride.
**** / *****
The World's End:
The epic finale of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End sees Pegg playing a man getting an old group of friends (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Martin Freeman) back together to take on The Golden Mile, which involves drinking a pint of beer from one of twelve pubs concluding with The World’s End. However, everything in the group’s old hometown is not what it seems, as unforeseen circumstances place them on the run to finish the Golden Mile.
After a very slow, but necessary first act to establish character, the film kicks into high gear with its entertainment. While Shaun of the Dead may be the funniest, and Hot Fuzz may be the most exciting, The World’s End probably has the most heart between the three. It does leave something to be desired with the jokes, but what it may lack in comedy, it makes up for with great character interactions, some of which are surprisingly pretty touching. That is only one of many ways The World’s End plays with audience expectation.
This time around, Pegg, the previously more serious minded man, is more of a care-free, reckless, and conflicted sort. What he hopes to accomplish by hopping bar to bar binge drinking isn’t always entirely clear, and what we eventually see in his state of almost arrested development is quite devastating, to which the more serious-minded Frost, the previously care-free type, plays against wonderfully. Though, that doesn’t mean the film is entirely laugh-free. There are quite a few good laughs and chuckles felt throughout, and the action sequences are quite a rush as well. It’s perhaps by no coincidence that these scenes feel like something straight out of Wright’s own Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
However, not everything in The World’s End is glowing. While I appreciate the heart, and the creativity, I did notice that I wasn’t as impressed by the script as I wanted to be. Also, I find the last fifteen minutes to be very problematic. The set up to it is great, and the ideas behind it are actually very thought-provoking, but the execution behind the ordeal feels indifferent, leaving the film to end on a very odd note. Whatever the filmmaker’s intentions were is anybody’s guess. However, if you can look past whatever flaws it has (and it does have big flaws), I think you’ll find something rewarding out of it.
**** / *****