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The World's End - E4

Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Simon Pegg, Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman stand in a group looking concerned.
(Image credit: Laurie Sparham)

A brilliantly bonkers alien invasion spoof. 4/5 stars

Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up again with director Edgar Wright for this brilliantly bonkers take on alien invasion sci-fi films, the last delicious lick of their self-described Cornetto trilogy (each film a different flavour).

Movie buffs will detect echoes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Stepford Wives and the novels of John Wyndham in the plot of The World's End, which kicks off with Pegg's slacker protagonist, Gary King, cajoling estranged friends Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steve (Paddy Considine), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Andy (Frost) into returning to their cosy garden-city hometown of Newton Haven and recreating the epic pub crawl they failed to finish as teenage school mates.

Seeking to down twelve pints in twelve pubs, Gary is determined to recapture the best night of his life, although these days Andy is sticking to water and the others have become fairly sobersided, too. Yet as the quintet begin their crawl, encountering Oliver's sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), along the way, it gradually dawns on them that something very weird has happened to Newton Haven since they left.

You will need to watch to find out why the town's pubs have turned into corporate clones and why its residents look so blandly conformist, yet we can reveal that co-writers Pegg and Wright have stuffed the film with glorious gags, fizzing action scenes and cannily timed surprises. At heart, though, this is a shrewdly observant and hilariously funny story of male friendship and the perils of hanging on to the past.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.