The Reel: The end of the world feels “Wright”

Ben Conniff

Director Edgar Wright won audiences over with 2004’s raucous zombie romp “Shaun of the Dead” and continued his success in 2007 with the buddy-cop comedy “Hot Fuzz.”

Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bring their “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy to an “end” with the aptly-titled apocalyptic adventure “The World’s End” which is out now.

Twenty years after an epic pub crawl attempt goes awry, five childhood friends reluctantly reunite in their hometown. Gary King (Pegg) becomes fixated on attempting to finish the drinking marathon once and for all by reaching the 12th and final pub known as “The World’s End.”

Strung along by Gary, the men face past traumas brought up again by being back in Newton Haven.

They realize three pubs in that the real struggle is for the future — a point that hits home when the guys unwittingly become humankind’s last hope for survival.

Viewers unfamiliar with Wright’s “Cornetto” trilogy may be wary of an all-English cast or the deadpan, sarcastic sense of humor that permeates British comedy.

Such humor is not for everyone. So credit Wright and Pegg for evoking a broader sense of humor with one of the year’s freshest, funniest screenplays.

With non-stop laughs, plenty of action and a cast of layered, well-developed characters, “The World’s End” rarely misses a beat.

Concern was only briefly aroused when the inebriated heroes made a daring escape. Those circumstances felt contrived at first but turned out to be logical once explained in the film’s denouement. The twists and turns along the way make for a breezy late-summer comedy.

It helps when you have the dynamic comedic duo of Frost and Pegg in starring roles, as well as the cream of today’s most popular British actors in your supporting cast. Look out for a scruffy Pierce Brosnan and an interstellar Bill Nighy in two of the year’s best cameo appearances so far.

“The World’s End” also earns props for a clever blend of comedy and science fiction. There are several elements that will have longtime sci-fi fans drawing comparisons to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, but as I recall, Donald Sutherland never had a pub crawl to finish.

Much of the action is derived from the science fiction elements, nearly all of which is played for laughs, similar to Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”

Like in “Scott Pilgrim,” Wright struggles with derivative set pieces. However, watching the guys decapitate and dismember all the blue-blooded baddies never got dull.

The “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy earns its moniker for a motif involving Nick Frost’s characters and Cornetto brand ice cream in all three films.

“The World’s End” depicts Frost’s Andy Knightley yearning for a green-wrapped, mint-flavored Cornetto after the packaging gets whisked up against a fence he’s standing behind.

Like Andy, movie-goers yearning for a late summer treat will find a satisfyingly fresh comedy in “The World’s End.”