The World’s End — 8/10

THE WORLD’S END (2013, Edgar Wright)

So many golden throwaway lines delivered at a breakneck pace that I could barely keep up with it. Doesn’t quite have the masterful formal jokes that made HOT FUZZ some kind of a masterpiece (the editing here is serviceable and good, but not part of the joke — though given that Wright is doing John Carpenter instead of Michael Bay, no reason it should be), and I’m not sure it really resolves itself very well in the end, but it’s a riot of a good time throughout. This is easily my favorite performance of Pegg’s ever. In the STAR TREK and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE films he’s a perfectly good nerdy sidekick, and in Wright’s previous films he’s been likable enough. But he just relishes this role like a starving man. The timing on his rapid-fire banter is fantastic (“WTF?” “What the fuck does ‘WTF’ mean?” “What the fuck?” “Oh right”) and his reaction shots are cartoonishly perfect. But he also finds just the right balance between clownish fuck-up and hidden emotional pain that allows the film’s themes of wasted nostalgia, misplaced ambition, and friendship to resonate so clearly. Improves considerably on reflection, though a few of its surface pleasures evaporate.

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