Middle age. It’s really not so bad. Yeah, it takes longer to pee and I’m instantly angry about tomfoolery I see the kids getting up to, but problems are same as they’ve ever been. Shit I don’t have patience to deal with gets overblown. I piss and moan about it. Yet ultimately I fail to do a damn thing about it.
Exploiting this dramatization is comedic gold which Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have mined very well. Hilarious existential crises are limited only by the number of people to express them, and at the same time all these many differing problems have a universal appeal. The World’s End is a decently entertaining manifestation of the typical male mid-life crisis.
The World’s End finds Gary King (Simon Pegg) lost in life as a 40 something. A free-spirited drifter that never really found his place, King decides that the best way to move forward with his life is to go back and complete a pub crawl that he failed to complete when he was 18 years old. What’s a bad idea to recapture lost youth without your friends? I don’t know, but it doesn’t make for a good comedy.
Whereas King has failed to grow up beyond that night, all of his mates have fallen into the conformity and homogenization that comes with getting older. Still, boys will be boys, and it doesn’t take much prompting from King to get the old crew back together.
All of this would be rather dull and banal, albeit with the occasional laugh, but Pegg and Wright like to throw a spanner in the works by pitting the boys against more than simple mid-life existential dread. There’s a tangible force at work draining the life and soul out of their old town, robots.
And it’s these five increasingly drunk buddies dealing with a town of robots which brings out the comic genius of the movie.
Sadly thought The World’s End falls short because the story is too big and it gets away from the filmmakers. The plot is necessarily grand because not only are the guys in a race to get to a pub called The World’s End, but the robots literally threaten to bring about the world’s end. How Pegg and Wright deal with the bigger world’s end that disappoints.
Without spoiling the story I’ll just mention two points which make the ending unsatisfying. First, its abruptness is jarring. It’s one of those “here’s some exciting action” and cut to black. Second, the ending suggests a kind of reverse Peter Pan. King gets to live in Neverland and be the swashbuckling free spirit but he’s going age while everyone around him stays the same.
I understand that in the short run it would be a dream come true, but it won’t, it can’t, last. Even if he manages to continue on until he dies that way, it’s pathetic like the 60-year-old man with a Ferrari and a 20-year-old trophy girlfriend. Considering how reckless King is throughout the movie, and then more so at the end, suggests that he’s not going to live a long life. He’ll get to satisfy that primal Id happiness, but it’s a base and unfulfilling pursuit and his early death would be sad, not a blaze of glory.
It’s worth seeing, and there’s quite a lot of very funny moments, just check out after the big climax. Yeah, that’s not very satisfying either, but it’s better than the ending presented which felt tacked on.