Just when you think there is a dearth of decent movies, along comes a bittersweet, slapstick sci-fi comedy. Directed by Edgar Wright, The World’s End not only leaves you cackling with evil laughter because of the sharp script, but it also leaves behind a sense of melancholy that the passing of youth brings.
The movie revolves around a British group of men in their mid-40s who reunite to complete an epic bar crawl of 12 pubs called the ‘Golden Mile’. When they were younger, the same plan had been thwarted halfway through. The bunch is not terribly enthusiastic about this reunion, but Gary King’s (Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame) obsession with unfinished business brings them together.
Once larger than life, the charismatic leader King is now a loser of epic proportions, having given in to drugs and alcohol. While King has refused to grow up and is in a state of arrested development, the rest of the members are reasonably successful in life.
Steven (Paddy Considine) turns out to be an architect who takes pride in his casual relationship with a young fitness instructor, something he points out to anyone who is willing to listen. He was once Gary’s rival for the affection of Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike). Peter (Eddie Marsan) who was bullied as a child now sells cars for his father, while Oliver (Martin Freeman) is a typical real estate agent with a Bluetooth receiver jammed in his ear perpetually.
Andrew (Nick Frost) is a lawyer who refuses to speak to Gary. The reason for this cold war is often mysteriously referred to as an accident, which turned Gary into a teetotaler.
King resents the success of the rest of the men in the group. He shouts that they are not as “free” as him, having chosen successful but conventional lives. King peaked in high school but has not amounted to anything since then, other than having landed in rehab.
As they start the pub crawl, they notice how every bar has been ‘Starbucked’, each looking like the next. As the movie progresses, they discover that most of the town’s people have been taken over by aliens. The fight sequences are hilarious and well-directed and the chemistry between the actors is seamless.
There are some truly hilarious moments, like when King comments on Andy drinking water instead of beer like “a lion ordering hummus”. Though King pulls off such scenes, one can’t but help despise him for his stupidity and recklessness, which often puts other people in danger.
The ending is a little silly and haphazard; the men enter a dialogue with an alien that has taken over the town. In the grand scheme of things, it makes sense and ties in with the underlying theme of the movie. It thus explores our need for imperfect people in the world, even ones who are as messed up as King. We see the desire to relive one’s youth. And the film also touches on how advancements in technology have increased distances between people. The movie might seem like a drunken odyssey but it has its moments of brilliance coupled with great humour because it looks at life’s bigger stories.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 20th, 2013.