The great thing about "The World's End" is by the time the third film in Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright's "Cornetto Trilogy" wraps up, we realize that the "End" is hardly the end at all.
In fact, like the trio's previous films "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," the real buzzing about "The World's End" truly begins after the curtains close, when you try to digest the head-spinning hilarity that consumed you for the past 109 minutes. Like the two films that preceded it, there's no question "The World's End" is a thinking person's comedy, and as Pegg and Frost told me in a recent interview, the privilege of getting the opportunity to entertain audiences is something that they don't take lightly.
"It's important to us that people talk about the films while in their cars on the way home, because if you make a film that winds up in such a way that you forget it before you've validated your parking, then you haven't done the audience any favors," Pegg said. "The thing that we love the most is when people the next day after seeing the film, say, 'Hey, I was thinking about the movie,' and that for us is hugely important, because we don't want to leave without something to talk about and think about. It's the best you can do as an artist, if I can be so lofty, is to make people think."
In "The World's End," director Wright and his co-writer, Pegg, have thought up a doozy. After a prologue about their wild youth together, the film finds Gary King, aka The King (Pegg), an over-grown-up teenager reassembling his best mates -- Andy (Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Pete (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine) -- to once again attempt a run at "The Golden Mile" in the English town of Newton Haven. It's a legendary pub crawl of 12 brew houses in the friends' home town that they failed to complete at the end of their school days 20 years before.
The last stop on the crawl is a pub called The World's End, but it's long before that that the five friends discover that there's something a bit off about the residents of the place they used to call home, and completing their drunken run is the least of their worries. In fact, they come to discover that The World's End could mean the end of the world, quite literally.
Opening Friday in theaters nationwide, the film also stars Rosamund Pike as Oliver's sister, Sam, and Pierce Brosnan as the group's former school teacher, Guy.
Pegg, 43, and Frost, 41, consider "The World's End" part of a trilogy -- not because they feature the same characters and a developing storyline -- but because of similar themes. In "Shaun of the Dead," the duo and a small band of others fight their way through a zombie plague in London, while "Hot Fuzz" finds the two and a small group of officers at odds with the cult in a seemingly quaint small village in the English countryside.
In the sci-fi themed "The World's End," the characters played by Pegg, Frost and their buddies run into a dominating force hell-bent on some cosmic intervention of the residents on Earth.
"After we made 'Shaun of the Dead' and it did really well -- better than we ever expected or dreamed it would do -- we were given the opportunity to make a sequel. But instead of doing that, we decided make a thematic sequel rather than a direct one," Pegg explained. "We used a sort of cinematic genre trove to say things that were meaningful to us like friendship and camaraderie. So right about that time, we made the call-back in 'Hot Fuzz' to 'Shaun of the Dead' about Cornetto ice cream (made in their home country of England) because there's a joke in 'Shaun of the Dead' about Ed (Frost) wants that particular ice cream first thing."
So when journalists asked in subsequent "Hot Fuzz" interviews asked whether they were going to make a trilogy of films featuring ice creams, the collaborators mused that it was, and the idea of the "Cornetto Trilogy" froze in their brains.
"We jokingly said it was our Kryzstof Kieslowski kind of trilogy featuring three flavors of Cornetto," Pegg said with a laugh. "But what we really realized was that we had an opportunity to make a thematic trilogy. A piece -- a series of three films -- that could be viewed as part of the same movement and as such, dealt with similar themes. They very specifically are the loss of identity in the face of a homogenizing force, about friendship, about the loss of adolescence and about Britain, since they're all set in the U.K. and that they all feature me and Nick."
While "The World's End" completes a trilogy for Pegg, Frost and Wright, don't expect it to be the end of the team's collaborations together.
"We love working together. There's quite a lot truth that we make films to hang out together. In fact, our wives think we're working right now. That's bulls---," Frost said, laughing. "We love working together -- me, Simon, Edgar and Nira Park, our producer -- I think we're very lucky that we get to do these films and then go off and do our own kind of thing, then come back. If it's five years from now that that happens again, that's the way it will be. But we will absolutely work together again. We have too much fun not to."
One thing that's for certain, Frost added, is that whenever the time comes, the idea that brings them back together, the new film will feature a new flavor, even it isn't Cornetto ice cream.
"I think the next thing we do will be completely different," Frost said. "I think we have a feel of that people are getting bored seeing guys playing the same characters and doing the same stuff time and time again, so to avoid that, we take our time, and we'll only pull the trigger if it's a great idea."