This is the third of a trio of comedies co-written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, with Wright directing and Pegg starring along with Nick Frost. In Shaun of the Dead (2004), a pretty funny and original romantic comedy with zombies (and some uncomfortable scenes of actual horror I could have done without), Pegg and Frost played a layabout and his even more useless friend. In Hot Fuzz (2007), a quite good anglicized version of an American cop buddy action comedy, Pegg played a dedicated London police officer transferred to a small village where Frost became his enthusiastic but not very capable partner. There’s some additional overlap in the casts and some repeated gags, but the films are unconnected in terms of characters or plots.
(Pegg and Frost also co-starred in 2001’s Paul (reviewed here), but that film’s script was co-written by Pegg and Frost rather than Pegg and Wright.)
This time Pegg is a man of about 40 who’s not happy with the way his life has turned out. Back in high school he’d been a popular guy, the de facto leader of a group of friends whose crowning achievement was an attempt to celebrate graduation by having a pint in each of the twelve pubs in their home town. They failed to reach all twelve, but Pegg recalls it as the happiest night of his life.
So in the hope of reliving, and maybe even topping, that one glorious event, he convinces his old friends to give it another try, this time making it all the way to the last pub on the list, The World’s End. They’re all reluctant, especially Nick Frost, the wealthiest and most successful of the bunch, who for good reason no longer considers Pegg a friend. (It’s good to see Frost play a competent character for a change.) But they all eventually go along for varying reasons.
Back in the town most of them haven’t seen for many years they run into a few people they remember, including a favorite teacher played by Pierce Brosnan and a town eccentric played by David Bradley (Hogwarts caretaker Argus Fitch in the Harry Potter movies).
Pegg is particularly delighted when they encounter Rosamund Pike, the sister of one of the friends (Martin Freeman, best known as Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit movies). Of course, any guy would be happy to encounter Rosamund Pike, but Pegg especially, since the high point of the original pub crawl was a sexual encounter with her in pub restroom.
They also run into a trio of hot girls they’d lusted after in high school, two blondes and a red-head known to their male classmates as the Marmalade Sandwich. It turns out the young ladies are not only still in town, they even show up in a dance club in their school uniforms, seemingly not having aged and quite willing to fulfill the fantasies of three of at least three friends. That seems pretty unlikely, and there’s an science fictional explanation for it, one that ties into the title.
By this point the story has taken an abrupt turn for the bizarre and dangerous, and our heroes are fighting for their lives and their honor. On the latter front, Pegg remains determined to fulfill his quest for a pint at every pub.
The ending I found a bit disappointing, and some might be troubled by the considerable level of violence before that, though it’s mostly comically cartoonish. I enjoyed it well enough, but I’d give it only a mild recommendation.