Sunday, 8 December 2013

The World's End

Lowdown: Twenty years later, a gang of 40 year olds attempts to recreate their “legendary” 12 stops pub run.
Satisfaction is all about expectations. We all know that by now.
What were my expectations of The World’s End? Well, it’s a Simon Pegg / Nick Frost starring film, and it’s directed by the same Edgar Wright who did Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with them. So yeah, between that and the title, I think I had every right to expect a weird/funny science fiction movie, didn’t I?
Well, no. As is turns out, The World’s End is all about a bunch of 40 year olds who moved on with lives looking back at their days of thunder some twenty years ago. They all lived in the same middle of nowhere English town and they were the kings of the world. Their crowning achievement? A night when they almost managed a pub run across all 12 of their town’s pubs, a night that should have ended at that pub at the end of the line -  The World’s End.
The problem is, as I said, they all moved on with their lives. They have their professions, their families, their commitments; they can’t just leave them behind for the sake of a silly night, can they? Well, not if you ask Gary King (Pegg), their former leader and the one person who is still definitely stuck two decades back. He’s family less, he still dresses the same, and he even still drives the same car. Somehow, he manages to drag his mates (who, by the way, include the likes of Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) to recreate this night of nights. And this time, finish it off.
Look, it’s nice and all, in that Cemetery Junction type of a way. Coming from a similar demography, more or less, to the heroes of this movie, I can see exactly what Pegg & Frost & Co are trying to achieve here: a look at a past now gone, an examination that asks the question of whether our past was as glorious as we think it was and whether what we made of our years since – family, work – actually made us better. Personally, my short stint with Facebook provided me with my answer to this question: virtually all reunions with mates gone by seem to have clearly indicated why our paths parted. Soon enough it became clear I should stick with the good memories instead of reviving them only to recall former bitterness.
However, then it goes and "spoils it all" by doing something "stupid" like turning into a weird/funny science fiction movie.
I won’t add too much detail here, but I will say The World’s End shifted to remind me of Frequently Asked Questions About Time TravelThe Watch, and Attack the Block.
It’s not only the movie that chucked a u-ey here. It’s also the message that changed. This time around, we are offered a lightweight but albeit subversive criticism of contemporary society’s culture of conformism and political correctness. Particularly in the UK, where ever present CCTVs “encourage” one to avoid straying from the paved path. It may be totally crazy, but The World’s End has something meaningful to say here. It clearly asks the question on the type of society we would like to have, and it also provides us with both the positives and the negatives of the options ahead of us.
Of course, the talents at hand float to the top with this change of gears. Freeman’s is probably the most notable; the addition of a female character to the equation (Rosamund Pike) helps, too. Yet, when all is said and done, The World’s End may be nice, but it misses things out as far as hilarity is concerned. This could have been a movie that would make me laugh to death. Instead, while it has its moments, it miles away from being the blockbuster the best of English comedy talent, with the notable absence of Gervais/Merchant, could have provided. Should have provided.
Overall: Very British, very Pegg/Frost like, very crazy. Not bad, but not funny enough. 3 out of 5 crabs.

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