The World’s End captures a peculiarly human pride in our mistakes. It introduces us to not only a hero who is blind to the destructive influence of his choices, but ultimately a cast who believe that to err is human and to keep doing so, divine.
Comedian Simon Pegg plays Gary King, a man verging on forty who has mentally never made it out of his teens. Twenty years before the beginning of our story he and his four closest buddies were involved in an attempt to drink their way along ‘The Golden Mile’, a circuitous path involving a pint of beer at each of their hometown’s twelve pubs. However the evening ended without them reaching their final stop at ‘The World’s End’. Decades later Gary returns to convince them to reunite and recreate their epic pub-crawl. But their world has changed significantly – his friends have grown up, married and moved on with their lives … and the village of Newton Haven has been taken over by alien replicants. Getting to the ‘World’s End’ will now involve coming to terms with their past mistakes, their present grievances and the invaders determined to reshape humanity’s future.
The World’s End is the final film in what Pegg and co-star Nick Frost have referred to as their ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, also including Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. It’s a pity about the language that earned it an MA15+ rating in Australia because the comedy is as fine-tuned as its predecessors and the social observations just as worthy of consideration.
Gary is a sad alcoholic who is clearly holding on to the excesses of youth, hoping this freedom to, ‘do what I want, any old time’ will translate to happiness. However his friends can see how poorly that plan has served him since their first pub-crawl and, by the end of the film, so can Gary:
“It never got better than that night. It was supposed to be the beginning of my life – all that optimism! It was a lie.”
But the interesting thing about The World’s End is the film’s assertion that our freedom to make mistakes is integral to who we are as human beings. I’m not talking about the lessons we learn from our errors; I’m talking about our ‘right’ to keep making them over and over again. When Gary and best friend Andy finally make it the final pub they come face to face with the aliens who’ve been chasing them all over town. It turns out their diabolical plan has been to help humans improve and mature so that they can finally become responsible members of an intergalactic community. But this is the height of malevolence for our British heroes:
Gary: “Who put you in charge?”
Andy: “Who are you to judge anyone? “
Gary: “We are the human race – and we don’t like being told what to do!”
The irony is that being free to do whatever it wants turns out no better for humanity than it did for Gary. Mistakes are only worth having if you learn from them and insisting on our freedom to keep making them is not going to help us in this world or the next. It was CS Lewis who suggested that Hell would actually be of our own making; that one day God would simply say, ‘Thy will be done,’ to all those who could not submit to His will. But maybe Pegg and Frost realise this. Ask yourself as the lights come up on The World’s End if being king of the ash heap was really worth striving for?
Release Date: August 1, 2013