A friend of mine used to have a theory about men and pubs. She’d noticed that as soon as they were settled in one they had an urge to move on to another.
This restlessness, she’d complain, was the expression of a deeper unease, a dissatisfaction with life, a vain hope that the next pub would deliver an unnamed promise.
Then she’d finish her pint and reluctantly follow the rest of us out.
The World’s End seems based on such a premise. This is the third film in the genre-ribbing “Cornetto Trilogy” after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
It reunites director Edgar Wright with comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Gary King (Pegg) rounds up an impressive cast of his old schoolmates (Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan, as well as Frost) to attempt a 12-pub crawl through their home town that they’d failed to complete 20 years earlier.
Before they’re halfway they realise Newton Haven —actually Letchworth—has been taken over by alien androids, Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style.
So their mission becomes not only to reach the final pub, The World’s End, but to save the human race while getting increasingly drunk. This is made a lot easier by the shoddy construction of the androids, which prove surprisingly easy to dismember.
It’s a promising plot. But The World’s End, like the aliens, feels as though it’s been thrown together. It’s a muddle interspersed by occasional funny lines and unfeasible fist fights.
Perhaps that’s because Wright, Pegg and Frost have a darker purpose. The pub crawl is exposed as Gary King’s desperate attempt to find meaning in his life.
There’s a suggestion that what the lads are really doing is making a stand for individual freedom against corporate uniformity and state coercion.
It doesn’t convince, though. On the whole I’d rather be down the pub.