That great British institution of the Pub Crawl is a genuine cultural phenomenon. Other countries may have the Bar Hop, but the Crawl is something quite different. It has to be. The way the British pubs are set up and located with their proximity to each other, the Crawl in its truest form is something that can only be accomplished on British soil.
It’s also a challenge, albeit an irresponsible one, but a challenge all the same. You hit as many pubs on foot in one night in the same town for a full pint in each without falling over. Friday night is the best time to do it. You have the whole weekend to get over it. To a British lad who enjoys a pint, it’s a way of life; to an outsider, it’ll seem as though Gt. Britain is populated with nothing but beer swigging alcoholics.
In The World’s End, Simon Pegg plays Gary King, a forty-something waste-of-space whose one moment of potential shining glory was never accomplished; when he was a late teenager he and the boys never completed the Golden Mile – the crawl from all twelve pubs in his hometown of Newton Haven. For the other four friends, time has moved on. They have respectable jobs, a family, a mortgage and all the other attachments and responsibilities that come with growing up. Gary, on the other hand, has never quite reached that state of social nirvana.
Gary is stuck in the past – the music cassette in his car is one indication – and the fact that he never completed the Golden Mile is eating him alive. So, some twenty years later, he lays down the challenge to his old friends. It’s time to put wrongs to right. It’s time for the lads to return to their quaint hometown, park the car and begin the trek. “One night, five guys, twelve pubs,” Gary explains. That’s sixty pints between the five of them. It will be done.
That old expression that you can never go home soon becomes something of a reality for the five men. “Newton Haven is a black hole,” states Gary’s best childhood friend, Andrew (Nick Frost). “It’s boring.” But being bored is going to be the least of their problems.
The World’s End starts off being one film then ends as another. The first forty minutes has us getting used to the notion that drinking yourself into oblivion – hence the term Crawl – is something fun to do. The men are not entirely behind the idea, but Gary’s irritating enthusiasm to accomplish the Golden Mile by crawling from pub to pub with names like The Trusty Servant, The Famous Cock and The Two Headed Dog, is overwhelming and they find themselves reluctantly returning to teenage haunts, and getting drunk in the process. Then something really strange happens.
At the forty minute mark the whole affair suddenly turns into an episode of Quatermass or an elaborate Dr. Who adventure with alcohol and vodka chasers. To explain what happens will probably be taken as a major plot spoiler, so let’s just say that the apocalypse is nigh and the name of the last pub on the Crawl, The World’s End, is about as appropriate as it gets.
The World’s End is a funny film. “How can you tell you’re drunk if you’ve never been sober?” asks Andrew of Gary. Gary’s responses are never quite as challenging. “To err is human,” he mumbles, “So… er…” It puts the winning trio of Pegg, Frost and director Edgar Wright back together again for their third outing, completing what they have described as a trilogy of comedies beginning with Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now The World’s End. If all three films have anything in common, other than being truly funny genre bending exercises, it’s that all major plot points take place in a pub. It’s the Brit way of doing things.
For some, that forty minute mark might be a problem. The change from a beer-guzzling comedy of British manners to a science-fiction thriller involving the Newton Haven version of Pod People might be asking too much. There’s a chance that some in the audience may never get over it. Having not watched trailers nor seen any scenes prior to the screening, the unexpected and abrupt switch in both style and story took awhile to overcome, but despite the left-field surprise, The World’s End still remains exceptionally funny. Both Pegg and Frost are such hugely likeable personalities you can’t help but warm to them. And even though Pegg’s character might prove to be a little more annoying than you would like, you go along for the ride – or the Crawl – regardless. It’s just fun being with them.
And how British is it? When the world is falling apart and their lives are at stake, one of the panic stricken lads asks, “What do we do?” Gary, who has the answer for everything, states, “Let’s finish our drinks.” It’s Rule Britannia in a pint glass, with a few good shots to follow.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 109 Minutes Overall Rating: 8 (out of 10)