Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead) genre-defying film deconstructs the drunken buddy comedy, comments on growing up/old  and recent social change, and spins into SF/horror/comedy gold. This is your summer movie of 2013. See it now.

Title: World’s End

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Cast

Simon Pegg as Gary King
Nick Frost as Andy Knightley
Martin Freeman as Oliver Chamberlain
Paddy Considine as Steven Prince
Eddie Marson as Peter Page
Rosamund Pike as Sam Chamberlain
David Bradley as Basil
Kelly and Stacy Franklin as the Twins
Thomas Law as Young Gary
Zachary Bailess as Young Andy
Jaspar Levine as Young Steven
James Tarpy as Young Peter
Luke Bromley as Young Oliver
Flora Slorach as Young Sam
Michael Smiley as Reverend Green
Sophie Evans as Becky Salt
Samantha White as Erika Leekes
Rose Reynolds as Tracy Benson
Richard Hadfield as Young Shane
Francesa and Charlotte Reidie as the Young Twins
Darren Boyd as Shane Hawkins
Angie Wallace as Mrs Page
Steve Oram as Motorcycle cop
Bill Nighy as Network
Pierce Brosnan as Guy Shepherd

Full Cast and Crew information is available at the imdb.

Premise:

Back in high school, Gary King led his buddies in debauchery and irresponsible fun. In their forties now, the gang have settled into respectable, productive lives, but Gary has failed to move on, and his old friends aren’t happy to see him again. He nevertheless convinces them to return to the old home town and the epic pub crawl they got too drunk to complete at 18. What might be another Hangover takes turns into the utterly bizarre as the old boys realize something sinister has happened to Newton Haven during their years away.

High Points:

We start with the drunken buddy comedy, but as it has never been done before. Gary King gives us a darker, more realistic version of the character who usually takes center stage in such films. Like Shakespeare’s Falstaff, Gary’s entertaining to watch but would be infuriating and dangerous to know. Of course, we soon realize something more is afoot. As the mystery unravels, the film plunges full-tilt into its own insane premise. World’s End continues to deliver big laughs without breaking character or ignoring the implications of its premise. Pegg and Wright and company have delivered arguably the funniest film of the summer and its best, most socially astute SF.

Low Points:

1. Even in a film as off-the-wall whackadoo as this one, I find it difficult to believe no one would notice the fight in the beer garden.

2. The trailers give away too much while failing to give a true sense of the film. The best moments require context.

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6 The beginning gives us a fresh twist on another drunken buddy comedy, and would have been hilarious, inventive, and moving even if it had been satisfied to reconceptualized that genre. The genre-blending twists and turns certainly use elements we’ve seen before (Invasion of the Body Snatchers comes most obviously to mind, along with H.P. Lovecraft, and every Star Trek episode in which Kirk drives a computer crazy or Pike teaches aliens that humans cannot be enslaved), assembled and spun into something unique–

–with social commentary.

Effects: 5/6 The film uses an effective mix of old-style, cheap but effective effects, and more current CGI. My only issue: close-ups of Blanks with injured heads look very like contemporary special effects.

Production: 6/6 The film makes excellent use of settings and music, and will require repeat viewings to catch the subtle touches.

Acting: 6/6 The cast give pitch-perfect performances, funny and believable and frequently touching. Simon Pegg shows us both the pathetic and charismatic sides of Gary King.
Even the supporting cast shine. Look for David Bradley (Broadchuch, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and more genre and non-genre TV than I can recall right now) as crazy Basil.

Story: 6/6 Yes, they let loose a little with the action sequences towards the ending, but Pegg and Wright have penned as tight a comedy script as any. Nothing gets wasted. Audiences will continue to argue about the ending, but I give the filmmakers points because, well into the final act, I had no idea how this would end, and they nicely evade a couple of easier conclusions that would have been cop-outs.

Emotional Response: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 Like a good deal of pop culture, the film combines elements that seem quite universal with ones that feel contemporary and transitory. I have no doubt people will reference this film for years to come; how it will hold up over those years remains to be seen.

For now, we have this year’s best summer movie.

In total, World’s End receives 39/42.