Back in 2004, Edgar Wright's brilliantly subversive zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead, introduced American audiences to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. On screen the British Mutt-and-Jeff duo (who teamed up again with Wright for 2007's Hot Fuzz) had the spark-spraying chemistry of two best mates who wasted their youth finishing each other's sentences at the local pub. Now they've all reunited for their third and best collaboration, The World's End. As in their previous comedies, Pegg and Frost play men who refuse to stop acting like boys. But these pint-swilling Peter Pans also know how to work the heart and the brain for belly laughs.
Pegg stars as Gary, a pathetic screwup still living in the past who cons his four closest childhood pals (Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan) into returning to their quaint hometown after 20-odd years to reenact what he calls the best night of his life: an Odyssean 12-pub crawl ending at a watering hole named the World's End. Pegg's Gary is a selfish cad, not to mention a raging alcoholic, but Wright's film throws in a jarringly apocalyptic sci-fi twist about the hamlet's nonhuman denizens that gives him and his stuck-in-a-rut buddies a hilarious opportunity for midlife redemption. Wright doesn't quite stick the landing: The finale is a little too shaggy and silly. But what do you expect after a dozen beers? B+