In short, the ‘wtf’ colloquialism sums up Edgar Wright’s latest directorial triumph, The World’s End.
In a good way, that is – the film is original, bold and genuinely funny. And interestingly enough, the ‘wtf’ gag seems to be at the core of what Wright was going for. “You know what’s funny about that? I thought of that as a joke and I was about to write that on Twitter… I stop myself and thought it would be a funny line in the movie.”
The film sees five childhood friends — or ‘the five musketeers’ — reunite to follow their leader Gary King (Simon Pegg) into mayhem. Mentally stuck in his teens, Gary cunningly convinces his four mates — Andy (Nick Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman), and Peter (Eddie Marsan) — to join him and re-create an epic pub crawl they failed to complete twenty years ago. This Golden Mile drinking marathon leads them to their childhood suburban town of Newton Haven, where Gary is hell-bent on reaching the last pub on his map, The World’s End, at any and all costs. But there is something wrong – Gary and his middle-aged cohort realise that town locals are not what they seem to be. It’s all parodied alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, cop action, ‘70s paranoia thriller from here in on with a gag hit-rate pretty high up there. Finishing the pub crawl is now not as half important as staying alive.
The World’s End, like Wright’s previous works, is also intentionally very British. “Oh I think it’s really important because I think in the same way that if I watch an Australian film I want to see like a little window into your world. It’s important to have cultural identity, because otherwise everything becomes a sort of a trans-Atlantic mush,” says Wright. And rightly so. With the number of Hollywood movies that seem to be infectious clones of each other, The World’s End comes as a welcome change.
Stylistically, The World’s End might comes across as propagating Around The Block meets The Day The Earth Stood Still meets The Breakfast Club wherein protagonist Gary shares a similar disposition to a gothic John Bender. But Wright doesn’t entirely agree. “Not specifically, no. You said Bender, but my first thought was Futurama… Simon used to be a Goth when he was a teenager. The sister of mercy look is just like wearing all black with black jeans. I’m wearing black jeans today,” laughs Wright.
But what we can say for certain is that The World’s End draws inspiration from Big Chill and It’s Always Fair Weather. “Big Chill is a film about some friends reuniting [while the] Gene Kelly musical (is) sort of friends after World War II… [they] meet ten years later and realise they have nothing in common.”
Contextually, the film also completes the Wright-Pegg written Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy comprising Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now The World’s End. When watched in a series, as intended, the trilogy successfully subverts then deconstructs stereotypes of the zombie thriller genre by satiric hyperbole and mockery. There’s also an overdose of nostalgia. “The nostalgia thing is like the villain in the piece… a sting in the tale in The World’s End is that the idea that nostalgia is probably very bad for you. The moral of the film is like don’t try to recreate former glories,” says Wright.
BY JOSEPH RANA
The World’s End opens in cinemas on Thursday August 1.