Can we now say that the bigger the budget the lousier the movie? Can mainstream punters (among whom I count myself) be ceaselessly fobbed off with smoke and mirrors and big noise?
Five mates, including Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, are reunited with the aim of finishing, at the World’s End, a pub crawl that disastrously fell short of its goal 20 years earlier. All of the lads have gone on to make something of their lives – except for Gary (Pegg), who is stuck in a man/boy alcoholic time warp.
The first of the film’s insurmountable problems comes with Gary – as a fan of Pegg, I was dismayed at the obnoxiousness of the character. I willed it to improve – Pegg is skilled at winning sympathy for the prat, but his taking centre stage with the others merely in his orbit gave the impression of it being a star’s vanity piece. The lads, none of them as keen on the venture as Gary, return to the Dibleyesque locale of their youth and start drinking. As in the not dissimilar Hot Fuzz, there is something weird about the townsfolk, who turn out to be robotic clones of the original yokels.
It’s at this juncture that the humour is intended to go into overdrive, as the boys scramble from one choreographed punch-up and chase to another. The highlight is when one of the mechanical humans has his head torn off and we discover that, instead of blood, a liquid the colour of India ink gushes forth. It’s not a bad horror/sight gag, but it can only work once and after it there is little else – unless you are amused by an extended rumble of loud and drawn-out slapstick.
The gorgeous Rosamund Pike is thrown into the mix as a result of the writers’ wondering ‘how can we get a chick involved?’ The story – of Gary’s redemption, what else? – is all over the place, the pacing is jerky and at the close I didn’t get what the point was.