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'The World's End' review: Let's do this one more time

***1/2 (out of four)

Be honest: If you could drop everything right now and, with no consequences, go on an epic pub crawl with your best friends, you would, right?

Maybe, maybe not. But Gary (Simon Pegg) discovers what most people already know: You can't always snap your fingers and recapture the glory days. All his best mates (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan) have grown up and made something of themselves. Only Gary drives the same car with the same tape stuck in the player and dreams of re-attempting the group's quest at "The Golden Mile," a stretch of 12 pubs (with everyone drinking a pint at each) that ended after the ninth spot on a night in 1990. The gang's lone remaining party animal convinces his estranged pals to return to their hometown for another shot.

The 12th pub is called The World's End, and suffice to say that the action-comedy, co-written by Pegg and director Edgar Wright as the finale in the trilogy with "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," uses its title in more ways than one. (Think about something those films have in common and you're on the right track.) That means "The World's End" has a certain feeling that we've been here before, both with these guys and in the countless apocalypse-related films of the past few years.

That hardly matters when a film is so fun and so funny. (For the record: "The World's End" blows "This is the End" out of the water.) The characters' easygoing relationships and quick wit sometimes make "The World's End" feel like a British midpoint between "Swingers" and "Ocean's Eleven," with Wright as usual keeping up a sharp pace until a finale that goes on just a bit too long.

The movie has more on its mind than Gary's plan ("We are here to get annihilated"), however, and it's a resonating if familiar story of the disappointments and monotony that can sink in during adulthood and the simple-yet-challenging goal to feel free and have fun. Speaking of which: I want to do the Golden Mile. Now.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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