How does one compare a British spoof of a science fiction film and an American spoof of an Apocalypse film? Well, let’s start with the cast photo! Here we see the cast of The World’s End gathered in a pub, all dressed in suits and jackets with only one character, played by Simon Pegg, sporting a scruffy beard. Everyone is neatly dressed and although they are all very funny in this film, overall, they act like adults. Only Simon Pegg’s character acts juvenile and yet, he does become a hero of sorts.
Now let’s look at the characters in This Is The End. Here we have a gathering of boy-men, a mainstay of American comedy of late; the men who have the mentality of college frat boys and dress like they don’t work or might be visiting a comic book store.
Two similarly-titled films; both featuring a small group of men trapped by a “plague” brought on by a “Higher Power”. Now which one is your cup of tea or, in one film’s case; cup of pee?
Re-released to garner a larger audience and reach a domestic box office of over $100 million (when producers and stars often attain their bonus deals), This is the End is a raunchy romp directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Starring Seth Rogen and friends, this is low-brow humor with a side of mayhem. There is a rape played for laughs, a funny decapitation, long discussions of ejaculation and a festive cannibalism feast. Women are victims and sex-objects: stepped on, ass-slapped and oogled. When Emma Watson’s character seeks asylum with this band of friends, she winds up fighting them off; afraid that they will attempt to rape her! The men are battling the evil forces outside their walls but they must also survive the self-destructive behavior within.
Fortunately, the Boys are played by well-liked American comedians. Not only are they clearly enjoying themselves, they are also mocking their images and the genre. There are a few moments of reflection on friendship and self-sacrifice before the film returns to pot-smoking, babes in bikinis, and a fun Boy Band cameo.
The last in the Cornetto trilogy, The Worlds End has the sweetness of Shaun of the Dead (2004) and the zaniness of Hot Fuzz (2007). All three films were written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. If only Edgar Wright had focused on the reconciliation of the high school friends and left some of the repetitive fight and chase scenes on the editing floor…
The enjoyment of spending time with this band of British comedians and actors almost makes up for the long exposition that is the Big Showdown.
As more pints are consumed, the pent-up resentment, jealousy and repressed feelings are revealed and the drunkenness and comradery increase. The relationships between the characters feels like a they’ve known each other for a long time, and their increasing states of drunkeness feel very realistic. Rosamunde Pike adds a bright presence in the endless round of pubs and her character helps the blokes focus on what’s important in life. There are some emotional truths revealed in between the bouts of fighting and even some reconciliations.
Even with the too-long running time and many repeated scenes; when the Mint Cornetto wrapper flies by at the end, there’s a bittersweet realization that this series is finished. Silly, yet witty. Crass, but with genuine feeling. Loud and raucous, with quiet emotional interludes. This is one complex ice cream treat!
Rating: This is the End–one martini glass of water
The Worlds End–two pints hastily downed