I watched “The World’s End” the other night, and found it to be an outstanding piece of storytelling. The basic premise is: Gary Knight, wanting to relive his self-professed “best night of his life” cajoles his estranged friends into trying to try The Golden Mile, and complete it this time.
This is told in obvious flashback, where we get to see just-out-of-school Gary, Andy, Steve, Peter and Oliver as The Fateful Night played out. . .
And then, we see Gary King in his present context: telling this to the other participants in some type of group therapy or 12-Step program. He stares off into the distance, a smile frozen on his face. Note: the Golden Mile is comprised of 12 pubs, a detail Edgar Wright likely included in the story as a parallel of the 12-step program.
I won’t go into all the particular layers in the movie (and there are), since they have been covered already–and with much more mastery–over here.
No, after watching it twice, I realized the opening sequence explained the order in which the plot would unfold. It’s all there, with the difference being that the friends are all older, and all of them have grown up and “put away childish things” with the exception of Gary.
The thing is: none of them have changed much at all from their younger selves. Once the friends are gathered, you find that they all harbor bad feelings dating back to their time in school, that they haven’t grown up much at all. At heart, Andy is still holding a grudge over how Gary reacted to an accident Back In The Day. Granted, that Andy may have nearly died and required surgery and physical therapy to get better makes it understandable, but to hold onto that grudge for so very long seems. . . unhealthy. Peter, we find out as they’re already on the Golden Mile 2.0, was bullied throughout school, which hints at what how we see his situation now: hidden from his wife, working under his overbearing father, always a bit of a second-fiddle in his own life. Steve carried a torch for Oliver’s sister since high school. . .
Overall, with these things in mind, it becomes apparent that Gary–despite being a drunk and a bit of a fuck-up–is the only one of them who is honest with himself about living in the past.
There’s little bits about “where have the days of yore gone?” throughout the movie. When it becomes apparent Andy has gone teetotal, Gary makes a convoluted plea involving King Arthur, Camelot and mead being the King of Beers. There’s the nostalgia evoked when they find out the pubs on the Golden Mile have all been converted into cookie-cutter copies of each other. There’s the mutual respect of Peter when he was able to hook up with the “marmalade sandwich” (two blonde girls, with a red-head between them), and the paranoia the remaining companions feel when they reach the Smokehouse.
It’s all there, and I cannot imagine just how crazy-detailed Edgar Wright is to pull it all off. If I can pull off even half of what he’s able to to do, I should be able to make sales left and right. . .