Over Christmas I checked my mobile phone to see who I could visit whilst near the old stomping grounds. It was then I realised I needed to do some long overdue phonebook weeding. From phone contacts I moved onto text conversations. Drunken crossed communications, unfulfilled dreams, misfires and (more often than not) complete radio silence. My formulative drinking years were not pretty. Last time I went clubbing in the city I grew up in -at a place they’ve since closed and demolished- it was an unremarkable night. Crap, even. Sometimes I sigh at the memories. To celebrate these freshly-resurfaced “memories” from reading the texts in my post-Christmas food-and-booze-addled brain I watched The World’s End (2013). This film marks the final part of the “Three Cornettos Trilogy” and is arguably the runt of the litter. I must admit I was perfectly underwhelmed on my first viewing, although it definitely had its moments. Determined to give it another crack, I realised something – this film pretty much sums up my “night out” experience. You expect it to be brilliant and then it turns out to be crap*. Though crap, I’ve decided, this movie is not.
A lot of my time spent pubbing and clubbing was bloody rubbish. The best part was repeatedly copping off with sausage rolls at the close of each night, the worst part was repeatedly copping off with sausage rolls at the close of each night. Probably because I got too pissed to think, possibly because I was fixated on unattainable goals (like trying to cop off with something other than a sausage roll in a near-comatose state) rather than the simple enjoyment of where I was and what I had (youth, freedom, dreams, blah blah). Basically, I preferred to sabotage my own happiness.
For me, The World’s End encapsulates the sorrow of realising you are, in fact, not immortal and probably doomed to some office-based mundanity for the rest of your life. It’s a hiss before dying -but what a hiss! I implore that you watch it with fresh eyes and renewed melancholy. Everything’s there. First and foremost Edgar Wright’s wonderful running gags e.g. the meaning of “WTF”, references to the disabled toilets and what that thing above a door is called**. Also there’s the death of the great British pub (crushed by wanky chains – whatever happened to The Winchester?) with bar staff who don’t give a fiddle-dee-dee because they work in soulless pits and they just want to knock off and stop dealing with pissheads (and perhaps they’re also ink-blooded drones).
In The World’s End everyone’s grown up and moved on save for Simon Pegg’s sad clown Gary King who’s gone all Metroland to bring the lads out of retirement. It’s the little touches that resonate -the car he still drives, the cassette tape he still plays and that last pint he must at all costs finish. Twelve pints, twelve steps. Nick Frost’s a boring bugger who has had enough of poor old (hard-to-like arsehole) Gary. So of course (jokes aside), the dynamics are about as far away from Spaced and Shaun of The Dead as you can get. Still, a few pints in and Frost generates the biggest laughs. There’s nothing like watching him put his arm through a pane of glass on a pub door or the piledrivers he delivers to hapless “blanks”. The supporting cast are all wonderfully plausible grown-ups who soon revert to wonderfully plausible boyhood fantasies, squabbles and childish jokes. It’s a spiked pint of happiness and sadness, to an extent that the other two entries Hot Fuzz (my current favourite) and Shaun of the Dead (my old favourite) could only dream of.
The World’s End is a fantastic epitaph to these fantasies, thoughts of immortality (or lack thereof), broken friendships and the great British pub. It also feels like a night out – the (possibly rare) sort where you land up getting plastered and having a good time despite it all. A sombre note to end the “trilogy” on perhaps, but by no means a bum note.
*I’m being subjective of course, you may have fond memories but for me they were filled with terror, self-loathing and occasionally reheated pastry-based snacks. Then again, there was the odd night that booted a great deal of bottom and chewed a decidedly large amount of chewing gum where I landed up kicking back on the side of a hill overlooking my world, watching the sunrise and believing all of my dreams would come true.