Five mates reunite to finish an epic pub crawl they never quite completed back in the day. In reality, though, none of the four really wants to join alcoholic loser Gary (Simon Pegg, who co-wrote) in his quest to get epically legless, and only show up for the sake of a catch-up. Especially reluctant is nerdy teetotaller Andy (Nick Frost) who like the others (played by Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, and Paddy Considine) has settled down, but also hasn’t drank in years. Undeterred, Gary brings his buddies back to their hometown to begin the epic 12 pub crawl. Weird thing is that none of the bartenders seem to remember the lads. Actually, the weird thing is that the majority of the township have been replaced by blue-blooded alien robots! Gary still wants to do the pub crawl, though, culminating in drinking a round at the title pub. Rosamund Pike plays Freeman’s sister, whom Considine still harbours a crush for, and Pierce Brosnan turns up as their former teacher.
I was a fan of writer-director Edgar Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, and I like Simon Pegg in just about anything not directed by Wright. Wright’s films with Pegg and cohort Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”) just haven’t been my thing, resorting to boozing, grotty characters, gross overlength, and not much to tickle my funny bone. The trend doesn’t really change with this 2013 apocalyptic sci-fi comedy, which has its moments like the earlier films, but never quite makes the grade overall. I will say though, that this mixture of aliens and pub crawl, wasn’t as unlikeable and uninteresting as I expected (what’s the point of drinking until you puke?), and it’s certainly better than “Storage 24” and “Attack the Block”, though a long way from the slightly similar “FAQ About Time Travel”.
Wright really needs to stop trying to be cool, because “Reservoir Dogs” slow-mo gags and that whooshing montage thing Wright puts into all of these films (this time it’s beer taps being poured) are really tired references. The audio cues from a certain Peter Fonda/Roger Corman film, however, were much more appreciated.
There’s something identifiable about the Pegg character here, we all know that one guy we went to school with who has never grown up and still thinks it’s cool to get drunk or stoned. Unfortunately, Wright never quite condemns this drongo, which is a shame because it could’ve taken the film somewhere far more substantial. Thankfully the robot takeover plot eventually kicks in so that the film doesn’t just become one long, glorified drinking session, though. The far too frequent music montages were irritating however, and I didn’t even like them in “Notting Hill” (Nice that Pegg isn’t obsessed with profane hippity hop this time, though). Meanwhile, there’s something inherently funny about Eddie Marsan playing a milquetoast twit in this (his smile is creepy as hell, though), and the recurring appearance by Pierce Brosnan was smarmily amusing to me too. In fact the more likeable characters played by Marsan (who I’d like to say is perfectly miscast, Rosamund Pike (whose Botox injections once again makes her look like she has suddenly forgotten her lines), and Paddy Considine help to nullify the scummier Pegg and equally uninteresting Frost (who you can just tell is just a boozer in nerdy clothing). That said, I’ll at least credit Pegg with bringing a sense of idiot energy and misplaced bravado that is certainly more interesting than his previous characters in Wright films, if no less disreputable.
It’s hardly a bad film (and could’ve been so much worse), just not very clever, inventive, or consistent. Well, OK, the sight of wimpy Marsan hiding in a toilet cubicle from robots disguised as puny young Brit punks is pretty damn funny and clever. The mixture of slacker characters and sci-fi/horror parody works a bit better here than in “Shaun of the Dead”, but it’s still not my cup of tea, especially when “FAQ About Time Travel” did much the same thing, and much better/inventively. And on what insane level does that ending make any sense whatsoever? It’s counter to everything that came before it!
A watchable, but uneven film that fans of the previous Wright-Pegg-Frost films will no doubt enjoy more than me. Booze just doesn’t appeal to me, folks. It’s already ingrained in the culture of my country, I’m not overly interested in fictional films about getting drunk.