August 22, 2013

Movie Review: The wacky Brits are baaaack in 'World's End'

Pegg, Wright, Frost, et al join forces again, and this time it's safe to expect 'The World's End.'

By GINA MCINTYRE McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Simon Pegg, Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman, five friends reuniting for an epic pub crawl, are in for an alien surprise in “The World’s End.”

Focus Features photos

MOVIE THE WORLDS END
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Director Edgar Wright positions Martin Freeman during shooting of a scene for “The World’s End.

REVIEW

"THE WORLD'S END," starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Martin Freeman. Directed by Edgar Wright. Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references. Running time: 1:49

Roughly one year after that, Wright was directing Pegg in the six-episode TV show "Asylum," and their friendship was sealed. "We bonded over having similar favorite films," Wright said. "The two films we bonded over would be 'Dawn of the Dead,' not surprisingly -- it must be stressed George Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' -- and 'Raising Arizona,' which is our favorite film."

FOUND IN 'SPACED'

It was the BBC series "Spaced," about unmoored twentysomethings and their quirky neighbors, that properly launched their careers, however. Pegg starred in and co-wrote the series with Jessica Hynes, with Frost appearing as Pegg's gun-obsessed best friend. With its barrage of pop culture references and nimble humor, the show won a fan base fluent in the language of "Star Wars" and video games, the same audience that helped make "Shaun of the Dead" a cult sensation in Britain that landed equally well with genre fans stateside.

Critics, perhaps not the most likely group to embrace a movie comedy about a slacker who becomes a more mature, attentive boyfriend in the wake of the zombie apocalypse, also were won over by "Shaun" -- the New Yorker's Anthony Lane, for example, described the film as a "smart, cultish, semi-disgusting homage to the fine British art of not bothering."

Wright penned the script with Pegg -- they also wrote "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" together. The concept allowed Wright to pay homage to the "all-in-one-night" movies he enjoys (such as Martin Scorsese's "After Hours"), with the action involving Gary and his chums (a group that also includes actress Rosamund Pike) transpiring almost exclusively in one bizarre evening.

The pair also invested the movie with plenty of comedic moments inspired from their own lives. Gary's costume, for starters, was taken from Pegg's past.

"It was my favorite character to play, not least because I got to dress like I did when I was 18," he said. "I loved it. I got to dye my hair black, which I never did when I was a Goth. I crimped it and I put feathers in it, but I never pushed it that far, I think I was a bit too scared. This was wish fulfillment for me."

Significantly, with Gary serving as the story's loony catalyst and Frost playing Andy, a serious corporate lawyer, the off-screen best friends upend their traditional movie rapport. Frost, a chummy teddy bear of a man, said the change was welcome -- he's often felt tagged by his "Shaun of the Dead" character, a "stoned idiot" named Ed.

"It was nice to act," Frost offered.

"Andy, you're similar to," said Pegg. "You're a responsible man in his early 40s."

"With an atom bomb inside of me," Frost added.

"We thought we'd mix it up a little bit and have Gary be this sort of mercurial force of irritation and chaos," Pegg explained.

Pegg and Frost's bromance dates to 1993, when the drama school grad met Frost, then a waiter at a Mexican restaurant. After bonding over "Star Wars," they became fast friends and were roommates for some years, even sharing a bed at one point. Now, they're both married fathers of young children -- Pegg, 42, lives outside of London with his wife and daughter; Frost, 41, lives on the other side of London with his wife and son. (Wright divides his time between Britain and L.A.)

Their easy, genuine rapport often leads people to ask them how much of their dialogue on screen is improvised, but the answer, as it happens, is little. "The World's End" was shot on a budget of just more than $20 million in only 12 weeks, leaving no time for casual riffing, Wright said.

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