Immaturity takes many forms. For some, like Gary King, it means wearing the same clothes, driving the same car, and living the same kind of life he lived in high school. For others, like his friends, it means living for your father’s approval, chasing women half your age, surrendering your identity to your job, and refusing to forgive someone who made a mistake many years ago. Immaturity is stagnation. It is a refusal to move beyond past failure to something new.
In many ways, The World’s End is nothing new, but who needs new when what you’ve got is so good. It’s a genre spoof like the Edgar Wright, Nira Park, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost films that have preceded it, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, collectively known as the “Cornetto Trilogy” due to the presence of the three flavors of Cornetto ice cream in each film. The World’s End‘s humour (British spelling) is as humorous and its action is as violent as in the other two installments, though the blood is blue this time instead of real-ly red. The World’s End is also as much fun a film as any I’ve seen this summer. If you don’t mind expletives dispersed with imperialistic fervor – this is a British film, after all – don’t miss it.
The World’s End solidifies the Wright/Park/Pegg/Frost quartet as laudable successors to the Chapman/Cleese/Jones/Palin/Idle/Gilliam sextet that made up Monty Python. Like the Pythons, the quartet makes films that are “of their time” – in the style of the other popular films of their era. The Pythons, accordingly, made historical and Biblical epics, experimental sketch comedies, and a concert film. The Cornettos films are zombie, cop, and sci-fi spoofs.
A similar sense of anarchy reigns in both sets of films, as does an insistence on having a good time for a good time’s sake. Both comedy teams also revel in lambasting the prevailing “wisdom” of their day. Their stories consider substantial issues like the rights of authority, our responsibilities to our communities, the nature and place of religion, and the meaning of life, but fall neither to one extreme nor the other in any case, choosing instead of rest somewhere in the messy middle.
I admire the messiness. The World’s End begins as nothing more than a “dude still living in his high school glory days needs to grow up” kind of movie. Gary’s friends have apparently moved on, and he needs to get his act together and grow up like them. Gary is the worst of all possible things a grown man can be – pitiable. In his friends, The World’s End also presents a pretty withering picture of what “grown up” looks like, and it’s easy to understand why Gary continues to reminisce about the night of his group’s famed, failed pub crawl. If life really only gets as good as his friends’ lives, why mature?
Maturity in The World’s End isn’t a job, a marriage, and kids. Maturity is dropping the facade. Maturity is when you quit pretending you have it all together. It’s accepting your faults, embracing your imperfection. It’s ordering tap water at a crowded bar, because you’ve learned you’re prone to substance abuse. Somewhere amidst the blue blood splattering and slacker skewering, The World’s End very humorously gets at something profound – maturity is humility. It is an accurate reckoning of your failings and a move forward in light of your recognized, accepted, and personally forgiven limitations.
Mature humility is the kind of attitude for which God praised Moses. It’s the effect of the thorn for which Paul was so grateful. It’s the posture we assume when we confess our sin and give our lives to Christ. In the moment, admitting our faults seems like the end of the world, but there’s something beyond it, something truer and more lasting than the lie we were living before. The world’s end isn’t the end at all. It’s the beginning of something new.
I can’t wait to see what Wright, Park, Pegg, and Frost do next.