gary, king of the humans
September 11, 2013 1:46 PM   Subscribe

HTML Giant reviewer AD Jameson reviewed the movie The World's End. He didn't love it at first. Then he thought about it more. Then he thought about it a lot. [Warning, every link in this post contains spoilers]

What he realized was that Edgar Wright and company had not in fact released a comedic parody of the social science fiction genre. It is instead a dramatic re-imagining of Arthurian legend and the Quest for the Holy Grail.
posted by Potomac Avenue (82 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is some hardcore overthinking going on. But interesting!
posted by rmd1023 at 1:55 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


To expand on my comment a bit, it's an interesting breakdown of the film, but I can't tell how much of it is seeing themes and references that are there (intentionally or not) and how much is more along the lines of the argument that Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" used arrangements of baking powder containers to make references to the genocide of Native Americans.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:58 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Comedic but not a comedy" is a good description, I had such a hard time settling into the movie's tone that I figured that had to be deliberate - plus the observation that in the other two movies, the main character has to learn to change in order to be happy. In TWE, the world has to change for King to fit in.

A case in point. Pierce Brosnan’s character, the patronizing school teacher Guy Shephard, might seem at first like just another version of Timothy Dalton’s smarmy Simon Skinner. And . . . he is, and he’s meant to be. Just think about it for a second. What does the Network do? Well, it replaces you with a younger version of yourself. And what famous character did Brosnan follow Dalton in portraying?.


ooooOOOOOooo


but I can't tell how much of it is seeing themes and references that are there (intentionally or not) and how much is more along the lines of the argument that Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" used arrangements of baking powder containers to make references to the genocide of Native Americans.


Uh, the exact placement of the Baking powder cans might not be relevant but the fact that it displays a NA headdress is important. The Shining is suffused with Native American visual motifs.
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, that was worth reading for the head-slap moment of realizing I missed the Brosnan/Dalton thing.
posted by COBRA! at 2:05 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I did remember thinking that it was funny that they had two major, intentional, direct references to King Arthur while at the same time out on a quest for cups/grails.
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on September 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


I need to lay down for a little while.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:11 PM on September 11, 2013


I rewatched it, and I've been really enjoying some of the subtler visuals/script interplay tricks, which were there in spades, just like Hot Fuzz.

Example:

GK: "Let's get this antique...on the Roadshow!

The other lads stare blankly, the clock bell rings once as the camera cuts between their unimpressed faces. As the last bell ends:

GK: "Come on, you bell ends!"

Another more obvious one, as the Happy Mondays "Step On" reaches the line "Call the cops!", the police motorcyle pulls out to pull the lads car over.

There's tons more. As well constructed and layered as the Cornetto itself.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:11 PM on September 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Whoa. Initially I felt he was overthinking it - but there are simply too many "coincidences" that exactly hit on the head. I even noticed that some of these points were emphasized and wondered but didn't come up with anything.

I... don't know what to think. On the balance, I think it's true. First class!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:14 PM on September 11, 2013


Reseeing The World's End to enjoy it a little more?

I'm on it. (And I won't be horribly hungover this time.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:15 PM on September 11, 2013


It will be interesting to see it again (I didn't NOT enjoy it, I just wasn't clicking with it) cause I came out Hot Fuzz going "what a letdown" and it got better with each viewing - some from foreshadowed callbacks and just noticing some of the neat little character stuff going on that gave the movie more texture then I noticed on the first go through (Quick, how many of you missed the Cate Blanchett cameo?)
posted by The Whelk at 2:16 PM on September 11, 2013


I'm beginning to suspect some of the beans on this plate have been replaced by extraterrestrial replicas.

But seriously, the polysemous aspects that Jameson is so keen to pounce on seem to be part and parcel of Pegg and Wright's trilogy. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz both make copious use of slantwise references and analepsis; examples that spring to mind are SPOILERS the events of the Shaun being exactly if imperfectly summarized in the drunken plan made the night before the zombie apocalypse and how, in Hot Fuzz the true motivations behind the various murders are actually the incidental comments Danny makes while Nicholas is piecing everything together.
What's different in World's End is the perspective of the filmmakers. I recall reading an interview in which Wright insisted he and Pegg come up with the story first and then figure out which genre to marry it to. This last movie is about the passage of time and moving on, a fitting theme to wrap up a trilogy among collaborators who have been working together on and off for 15 years now and who are being absorbed into the great Hollywood Network.
I don't think Jameson is wrong---everything he's bringing out is there in the movie---but I think World's End is perfectly intertwined with the rest of the trilogy. It isn't doing anything remarkably different.
posted by Bromius at 2:16 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The final scene of Gary Kings character is important - its very different to the usual arc for a character like him. The fact that he orders water is also a reference to something Andy says earlier in the film.
posted by memebake at 2:19 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found the re-thought review overly apolegetic. Bringing forward every last bit of cleverness in the movie.

This is not a great movie with deeper layers that come to light upon re-watching, it's a decent-to-good movie with layers that will mostly go unnoticed because the front layer is a bit dissapointing.

It just doesn't have as much "heart" as the other two.
posted by svenni at 2:20 PM on September 11, 2013


I really wanted to love this movie but I didn't. If Shaun of the Dead is a 10 and Hot fuzz is an 8.5 then World's End was a 6.
posted by zzazazz at 2:21 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I loved this movie. It's not as immediately tasty as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but it's more melancholy and thematically complicated. It's also very well thought-out and generally awesome.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:28 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I tried so hard to suspend disbelief watching World's End but it really wan't happening. Pegg really had to shoehorn those characters into that plot, and no amount of beanplating will get around that fact.
posted by Dmenet at 2:32 PM on September 11, 2013


A good look at the movie, which is fairly complex - I've only seen it once so far, and there's a lot in the movie that is still resonating with me. And I had completely missed all of the other character's last names, so having that pointed out was good.

Some points I think this misses:

-Gary King is not only in rehab; he has recently attempted suicide. This is why he won't show his arms in the smokehouse. This is why this is truly the World's End for Gary - he wants to finish his pub crawl so he can end his life at a high point. Gary's insistence the crawl continue no matter what is because of this simple fact: he intends to die at the end of it. The reveal of his bandages was (for me) a critical moment in understanding Gary's obsession with carrying on.

-Gary King rejects growing up the way The Network wants, spinning the world back into the Dark Ages. The gives all of humanity a chance to grow up into something different, underlining the fact that even the characters who had "grown up" were not happy with what being grown up was. It's about growing up both as an individual and as a species; not just hedonistic individualism versus going with the group - it's both/and, not either/or. There's a great scene in the middle of the movie where Frost just starts laying into Pegg about his irresponsibility and selfishness and he's not wrong; but neither is Gary wrong in rejecting the falseness of society. There's a different path between the two.

While Shaun and Fuzz were lots of fun and also dealt with serious things about responsibility and growth, World's End is a darker film, more mature in its themes about what growing up really means and if we are growing up right - or what, exactly, the price of growing up is. Maybe it's just because I'm of an age with Pegg, Wright, and Frost, so this film comes at a time in my life where I'm probably asking some of the same questions they are, but I really liked this one.
posted by nubs at 2:42 PM on September 11, 2013 [33 favorites]


Well obviously I did 13 shots (one for each pub and one for luck at the start).... I think I might have missed some of the subtleties of the 3rd act
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:44 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


nubs - that's a wonderfully articulate explanation, better than I could have said - and explains what I like about the film.

except for the bit where I realised that I am most like Gary King, only without having been cool in highschool ...
posted by jb at 2:45 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I definitely need to rewatch it now. I feel like I caught a good third of this on the first viewing....
posted by RainyJay at 2:51 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Independent confirmation of the htmlgiant analysis.

I think the The World's End is undoubtedly very clever and meticulously constructed, like all Edgar Wright movies. But clever isn't a substitute for good. I've rewatched TWE once already and I'm still on the fence about it, but it hasn't fallen in my estimation like Scott Pilgrim did after multiple viewings (my appreciation of the extraordinary intricacy of the film increased, but my enjoyment decreased because Scott is more obviously a complete asshole the more thought you give it)
posted by figurant at 2:52 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is amazing.

(And I remember thinking it funny that Brosnan was in this one while Dalton was in Hot Fuzz.)
posted by kmz at 2:59 PM on September 11, 2013


Last night I watched It's Always Fair Weather, a 1955 MGM musical co-starring and co-directed by Gene Kelly. It's about three GIs who agree to meet up again 10 years after World War II and when they do, discover they don't like each other much. Wright and Pegg have mentioned it was one of only two films they re-watched before writing The World's End. Like The World's End, it's not a very happy movie, but it is interesting. Cyd Charisse's dance with boxers at a gym is the scene-stealer.

Also, The World's End used Brad Allen, a fight coordinator who had worked with Jackie Chan. I noticed that the fights were not as choppily edited as most Hollywood movies, though the shots probably weren't as extended as most Hong Kong films. But at least they did their own stunts.
posted by larrybob at 3:10 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


The fight choreography was amazing.

I wonder how important Englishness and being-about-40 is to 'getting' the film.

It hit me straight between the eyes - all the music from the soundtrack was stuff I had on tape back in 1990.

I think being familiar with english pub chains and Garden Cities kindof helps too. The Worlds End was filmed in Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City - both Garden Cities which were an ultimately unsuccessful method of urban planning that failed to achieve its aims - exactly what happens to The Network in the films.

If you're from the UK the 'look' of the fictional town of Newton Haven in the film is instantly recognisable as that certain-sort-of-self-consciously-yet-badly-planned-town.
posted by memebake at 3:20 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I completely missed the Dalton/Brosnan point and my mind is blown.

I adored it and left the theater beyond satisfied, and yet now I feel like I missed half of it. I cannot wait to watch it six more times.
posted by middleclasstool at 3:26 PM on September 11, 2013


I've thought for a while that Shaun of the Dead is 'about' London and Hot Fuzz was 'about' leaving London and living somewhere that has a model village. On that basis then The Worlds End is 'about' returning to your hometown after being in London, and finding it plastic and unconvincing.
posted by memebake at 3:26 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a film that left me confused and uneasy in a way that few films have. Which is particularly odd considering what it is.
posted by wotsac at 3:34 PM on September 11, 2013


This is easily the most English of the three
posted by The Whelk at 3:41 PM on September 11, 2013


I liked how Bill Nighy in all three films played the Voice Of Authority who tries to make Pegg's character change in ways he does not want to.

I enjoyed World's End. I think I'll like it more once I can watch it again in the comforts of my own home. Still need to find a way to find an actual Cornetto in Boston.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:50 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Probably because I'm British, and while a little younger am still looking at the hollowness of my adult life, I found this one of the most depressing films I've seen in a long time. Funny in parts, but hitting too close to home to be actually enjoyable.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:55 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've rewatched TWE once already and I'm still on the fence about it, but it hasn't fallen in my estimation like Scott Pilgrim did after multiple viewings (my appreciation of the extraordinary intricacy of the film increased, but my enjoyment decreased because Scott is more obviously a complete asshole the more thought you give it)

I'm actually really unhappy with Scott Pilgrim for two reasons.

First, it's ultimately a cowardly movie. The film begins by constantly painting over the frame for emphasis, expressing feeling and motion and doing what is very much its own thing. Then about half an hour in, that all but stops, and things get very conventional. This happens, incidentally, right around the time the film and the books start to seriously deviate, and it's here (IMO) that the film goes off the rails hard, becoming more conventional than the original work and ignoring all kinds of themes and ideas from the books. It's like "oh shit, we're getting away with something cool! Dial it back!"

And that leads me to my second gripe, which is that the book version of Scott Pilgrim has a bunch of interesting stuff to say about growing the fuck up which should make the director of Shaun of the Dead absolutely perfect for it, but very little of it ends up on screen. Wright focused first and foremost on the action in the comic's story and spent very little time on what any of it means or why it is that Scott has to fight Ramona's exes in the first place. (The reason being that early 90's video games are heavily used as a symbol of immaturity- watch Scott, when he thinks Ramona has dumped him, spend two weeks doing nothing but obsessively play Sonic 2- and Scott interprets getting the fuck over the fact that Ramona's had past relationships, something that's part of growing up, in the most video game-like manner possible.) When it circles around to the same concept at the end- Scott triumphing not because Ramona loves him but because he's come to respect himself- it's strange because while the comic has been building to that ending, the movie hasn't.

I'm well aware that you lose some things and gain others when you convert a story from one medium to another- check out this comment on the John Dies at the End movie if you don't believe me- but I felt like the Scott Pilgrim movie missed the mark very badly by focusing on the flashiest bits and ignoring why they were happening.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:59 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found the monsters pants-wettingly scary. Like, original-Cybermen scary.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:07 PM on September 11, 2013


I found the monsters pants-wettingly scary. Like, original-Cybermen scary.
posted by The Underpants Monster


Epony-lingerie-ical?
posted by arcticseal at 4:19 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an early 40s brit, TWE resonated heavily with me. Would like to watch it again with all my old friends from that period, if only so we have an excuse for a piss up.
posted by arcticseal at 4:21 PM on September 11, 2013


Oh, the other thing about Scott Pilgrim is that Scott's core personality trait is that he's 100% oblivious to what anybody else thinks of him, while Michael Cera's entire acting career is that he's chronically, painfully self-aware and self-doubting. Cera is a good actor who does good work, but his casting in Scott Pilgrim was like Keanu in Dracula.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:02 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


And that leads me to my second gripe, which is that the book version of Scott Pilgrim has a bunch of interesting stuff to say about growing the fuck up which should make the director of Shaun of the Dead absolutely perfect for it, but very little of it ends up on screen.

I say this an unrepentant fan of SP, who saw it twice in theatres, totally in love with the visual and audio inventiveness and style and sheer charm the movie exudes, but the final act is totally unrewarding and the more it deviates from the book the worse it gets. Scott is an asshole, he has a clear redemptive arc, and none of that gets into the movie and it's very frustrating cause otherwise it was like watching my Colledge years on screen in a very spooky and slightly unsettling way.
posted by The Whelk at 5:06 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a delicious plate of beans.

I hadn't really picked up on the significance of Gary's suicide attempt until nubs mentioned it above. Viewing the whole quest as Gary's march toward death instead of Gary's march toward redemption (which is what I was assuming to be the motivation for getting to TWE) really adds a whole extra layer that I hadn't seen before.

I saw the last scene with The Network is basically an dialogue on the importance of self-determination as (1) a basic human right and (2) a collective human right. Gary's ongoing insistence on self-destruction is about the worst argument one could make for the importance of self-determination, but it's a brilliant choice when you realize that protection of an individual or group's right to choose self-destruction is almost always going to conflict with THE GREATER GOOD THE GREATER GOOD.

You can view the whole trilogy as an evolution of this theme. In Shaun, we have an obvious zombie threat to all of humanity, so although everyone doesn't necessarily agree that going to the Winchester is the best plan, it's clear to all that everyone's got to abandon normalcy to preserve their way of life. Interestingly, the movie ends with absolute normalcy; Shaun's matured, but at the same time, appears to be holding on to a significant part of his former life, namely Ed. IIRC, in Nerd Do Well, Simon Pegg mentions that they left it intentionally ambiguous as to whether or not Liz knows that Shaun is keeping Ed in the Shed.

But then, things get a little more interesting in Hot Fuzz, when it takes everyone much longer to realize that they have no choice but to destroy the town to save it because the NWA hides their corruption so well. However, once it becomes obvious that the NWA is killing people, the gang quickly sees the importance of taking down the threat. Everyone settles down into a new and better normalcy.

Once you get to The World's End, it's basically just Gary who's insisting upon this ridiculous quest toward self-destruction when everyone else in the movie just want to escape back to their own normalcy. We spend the entire movie wondering why we (the audience) should be another one of Gary's enablers, until The End, when Andy jumps in to defend his friend from The Network by adopting Gary's argument that a human's right to self-determination extends to the individual right to fuck up and/or choose a path of self-destruction because otherwise, we're ROBOTS who are subservient to someone or something else's definition of THE GREATER GOOD THE GREATER GOOD . So if the whole movie is Gary's quest for death, rather than life, then that makes Gary's catharsis and subsequent apotheosis at the end way more interesting.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:34 PM on September 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


His mates are called Chamberlain, Prince, Knightly and Page. Headslap. Totally didn't notice that.

As to Scott Pilgrim being an asshole - well... yes? That's the point, isn't it? I've only skimmed the books, but what I have read about the greater focus on woo woo subspace byways and mindcontrol chips sounds a lot worse than what we got in the film.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:47 PM on September 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you're from the UK the 'look' of the fictional town of Newton Haven in the film is instantly recognisable

What bothered me about the setting is that 'Haven' means harbour, and yet it becomes terribly apparent, as the film progresses, that this town is nowhere near the sea. I'd been looking forward to the tacky seafront pubs and gaudy pier.
posted by Flashman at 6:52 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


So if the whole movie is Gary's quest for death, rather than life, then that makes Gary's catharsis and subsequent apotheosis at the end way more interesting.

That's it exactly; Gary was driving me crazy with his continued push to see things through to the bitter (lager) end in the movie until I saw the bandages - once I realized the pub crawl was intended to be his final act, rather than an attempt to recreate a past glory, it all clicked into place. The weirdness of the situation and its implications meant nothing to him; and if the Network had understood his impulses and motivation it would have just let him carry on, left him alone, and nothing would have changed.

And I think there's something to be examined in the fact that its a man on the verge of self-destruction being, perhaps, the only one who could talk the Network out of its plans. It had nothing to offer Gary, besides its own destruction.
posted by nubs at 7:12 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't guess about the suicide attempt - I figured it was track marks he was trying to hide - but from the moment of the obvious lie he told Andy to get him to come I was pretty sure Gary wasn't planning on coming back from the trip. I was all, "How could he go on once they find out... oh. He's NOT going to go on, is he?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:48 PM on September 11, 2013



I hadn't really picked up on the significance of Gary's suicide attempt until nubs mentioned it above.

Person I saw the movie with, this totally went over his head, as did some of the other grace notes in characterization I think cause we were both in the mood for and expecting Big Fun Drunken Sci-Fi Comedy that we got something totally different and it was weird. I think watching it knowing Gary is a suicidal fuck-up who can't function in the real world, only in the elegiac past, will totally color it on re-watching.
posted by The Whelk at 7:50 PM on September 11, 2013


I'm still embarrassed it took me a second viewing to figure out that The Network's five-vertical-bar insignia (which we see on the logo of Crowning Glory beer, on a building hung with blue "We Build. We Improve. We Perfect." banners, and in the beam-o'-Nighy at the end) is a cell phone signal indicator- see the "it must be the network" moment Jameson notes in his piece.
posted by Merzbau at 7:55 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to say that MeFi has been top notch lately with film criticism. Between this and a link to The Dissolve a few weeks ago I have weeks a film crit to read.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:00 PM on September 11, 2013


And yeah I totally first assumed they where track marks.

His mates are called Chamberlain, Prince, Knightly and Page. Headslap. Totally didn't notice that.

In the Hot Fuzz commentary they mention how all the townsfolk have really old fashioned, Anglo-Saxon last names so their murderous commitment to a "perfect English town" fits.


As to Scott Pilgrim being an asshole - well... yes? That's the point, isn't it? I've only skimmed the books, but what I have read about the greater focus on woo woo subspace byways and mindcontrol chips sounds a lot worse than what we got in the film.


It's underlined a little more strongly in the books, and the subspace doors are just another strange thing this universe has that no one comments on or thinks is strange (Wallace's boyfriend is a telepath who remotely leaves his body on occasion, this is mentioned without comment). But really it's more the lack of grounding the movie has in Scott's past. Whenever he imagines cool stuff he did for his former girlfriends, it's always in this simplified retro style - by the end we find out he's remembering things wrong - he was the jerk. Awful things don't just happen to him, he brings them on himself cause he's an asshole. Why doesn't Scott drink? Cause when he does he acts like a freaking idiot and ruins the evening. The last book is basically this catching up to him and how he can't go through life thinking he's this put upon protagonist, he's the prime mover in a lot of his own misery. And the movie annoying references these plot threads but doesn't engage with them, so the final act has no payoff or heft.

Again, said as a huuuge fan of the movie as an exercise in pure personal style and making me feel nostalgic for being 19 (also hey Wallace and I are obsessed with the same actor.)
posted by The Whelk at 8:01 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Merzbau: Don't be embarrassed because I didn't notice that the wrapper on the fence was a Cornetto wrapper until the second viewing because I was too busy hoping for a Jaffa cake shout out.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:02 PM on September 11, 2013


Also, I want this see it again just to pay attention to the sounds. I caught the cellphone interference noise used at several points to foreshadow robot entrances but I did not catch the connections with the lyrics that the article mentioned.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:07 PM on September 11, 2013


Uh, the exact placement of the Baking powder cans might not be relevant but the fact that it displays a NA headdress is important. The Shining is suffused with Native American visual motifs.

I believe this was a reference to Room 237, which includes an elaborate, convoluted, and likely wrong explanation for how the Shining is about the destruction of native americans.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:09 PM on September 11, 2013


Well yeah but there's a body of criticism about the NA motifs and themes in The Shining without going into Room 237's frankly bizarre interpretation of them. Pet Peeve and all.
posted by The Whelk at 8:13 PM on September 11, 2013


I would say that Cera was an acceptable -- even fairly good -- Scott Pilgrim, but it was certainly not the same Scott Pilgrim that was in the comics. Sort of an alt-universe Scott Pilgrim.
posted by rifflesby at 8:25 PM on September 11, 2013


Also, I want this see it again just to pay attention to the sounds.

Probably well worth it, Edgar Wright does make interesting use of sound design and music choices. On a rewatch of Hot Fuzz in preparation for seeing The World's End for the first time, I noticed the last

"Want anything from the shop….Cornetto?" pair was completed not by one of the characters, but yelled at the appropriate time as a backing vocal track in the score. Nice!

And of course he's pretty much going for setting up the Wilhelm Scream of pub film fruit machines by this point.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:33 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly certain this isn't too much overthinking. The Brosnan/Dalton thing is just genius and you can't fucking tell me that's coincidental.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:03 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I really wanted to love this movie but I didn't. If Shaun of the Dead is a 10 and Hot fuzz is an 8.5 then World's End was a 6."

I am actually surprised that most people didn't get a bit more out of this. I certainly recognized it as a clear hero's epic quest with obvious Arthurian overtones. It pretty much said as much from the get-go. The whole "meeting at the train station and then being whisked away by the old, belching, highly improbable great steed" thing struck me from the beginning as a clear shift from the real world to a different, more symbolic one. The various pubs were obviously stages in an epic adventure. King wasn't just a king... he was a wounded king in a wounded land. In fact, if this movie is like any other film, it isn't "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers". Rather, it's like "The Fisher King".

The director was very clever by making things seem ordinary at first, even though they obviously were not going to stay that way. The king is a transformative, destructive figure, leading his followers on a transformative, destructive quest that gradually breaks down the characters to reveal their true selves and their true reality.

What is the secret of the Holy Grail
? Well... there's your answer to the ending. If you viewed this as just a genre parody, you didn't watch the same movie I did. No wonder you felt let down.

From my point of view, The World's End is a significantly better, more surreal and far more symbolic film than Hot Fuzz, which I found funny, but significantly less interesting -- more of a genre parody than something meatier... and ultimately, less rewarding.
posted by markkraft at 9:06 PM on September 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Man, this movie just might be up there with Brazil. I will have to rewatch it a few times.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:12 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how important Englishness and being-about-40 is to 'getting' the film.

As someone who is neither English nor being-about-40, I am happy to tell you that it scans just fine. Also, it makes me want to buy the soundtrack.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:19 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much of The Network's plans and good intentions THE GREATER GOOD are commentary from a bunch of UK creators living in the Hollywood system for a while, where everything and every story and everyone is pressed and molded into more pleasing, palatable versions, free of any distracting bumps or imperfections that might keep you from liking them. Why wouldn't you want to submit to the The Network if it meant you where younger, better, and without confusing, possibly confrontational history?

In the Grim Dark future, people scar themselves to prove they are human because their robotic duplicates are so flawless and alluring.

Also I don't think we ever see King use a cell phone or anything like it, and considering how The Network is the living embodiment of a cell signal ......
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 PM on September 11, 2013


(I mean, and I say this only as someone who had ten thousand dollars of teeth repair explained to them as an investment by a agent, that the drive to make yourself as pleasing and appealing and curiously generic as possible is every much a thing and presented as a wholesale good. Why wouldn't you want to be your best possible self to the most number of people?)
posted by The Whelk at 9:47 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


(also hey Wallace and I are obsessed with the same actor.)

Kieran Culkin nailed the role of Wallace. Utterly killed it.


Also I don't think we ever see King use a cell phone or anything like it, and considering how The Network is the living embodiment of a cell signal ......

Gary has a cellphone. It's an ancient phone from the 1990's, of course.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:41 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kieran Culkin nailed the role of Wallace. Utterly killed it.

BEFORE I SAW THE MOVIE I had people telling me Kieran was doing a dead on Whelk impersonation. It made the whole thing very surreal. Ignoring the fact that I owned all of Scott's wardrobe in the movie and was wearing his iconic t-shirt when I went to see it.

I have a confusing relationship that that movie, basically.
posted by The Whelk at 10:44 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


(And in retrospect, how Kieran as Wallace follows Chris as Lucas around is strangely like how I followed posts about Chris as Steve for shoots in New York and tired to just show up when I thought shoots would take place...like in the movie and, if I think about it too hard have to lie down).
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 PM on September 11, 2013


"I wonder how much of The Network's plans and good intentions THE GREATER GOOD are commentary from a bunch of UK creators living in the Hollywood system for a while, where everything and every story and everyone is pressed and molded into more pleasing, palatable versions"

It might also reflect modern British society as a whole, too.David Cameron is a fan of using behavioral economics to nudge people towards boring responsible adult behavior, and there's been a general trend for quite awhile in British politics and in their culture to be, for lack of a better word, pleasant.

"Man, this movie just might be up there with Brazil. I will have to rewatch it a few times."

Not as good as Brazil, but if it were a Gilliam film, I suspect people would be calling it his best since 12 Monkeys... which is plenty good.
posted by markkraft at 10:51 PM on September 11, 2013


The film also made me retrospectively sort of sad that Wright/Pegg/Freeman weren't all involved with The Hitchhikers Guide. I liked Mos Def, but Pegg would have made an excellent Ford Prefect, and the story ties in so well with their preoccupations with pubs, Englishness, Sci Fi, and creating parallels between the mundane and the fantastic.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:56 PM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


The World's End was my semi-clear favorite of the three, followed closely by Shaun, and then Hot Fuzz, but whatever, because, you know: opinions. They're all pretty splendid.

I'm gonna go finish reading the links, then watch the movie again tonight, I think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:25 AM on September 12, 2013


Even though I only caught some of them on first watching, I think just about every point made here is spot on.

I think being of a certain age and disposition might be if not strictly necessary, at least helpful in connecting with this movie. Luckily for me, I am both that old and thataway disposed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:34 AM on September 12, 2013


I know Wright/Pegg/Frost said in an interview that the blue 'blood' of the blank was a call back to having ink stained fingers as a kid when the protagonists would end up with blue marks on them... However the pub toilet were the first fight takes place has very orangey walls and the blanks are all wearing blue... I kind of inner groaned 'oh no, not you Edgar as well! Fallen to the to 'teal and orange' as decreed by The Network Hollywood to be in every film now. But I wonder if it was a deliberate piss take.

I suppose, as with a lot of things the film, we'll find out come the dvd and it's inevitable gazillion commentaries.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:52 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't the coda of the Arthurian legend that Arthur and his knights are hidden away, asleep or suspended, until such time as England needs defending? When better to re-emerge than an alien occupation?
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:54 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think, as this discussion shows, that there is a hell of a lot going on in each one of the films in the Cornetto trilogy. Wright, Pegg, and Frost spend a lot of time on the craft - they're having fun, yes, but they are also really trying for something deeper and meaningful, which is why the films bear repeat viewings and why there is so much affection.

We all probably have our individual favourites, and that's fine. What I wish I could do is get a group of Mefites together to do a screening of the trilogy and a discussion panel afterwards.

Because this is one plate of beans I think is worth overthinking.
posted by nubs at 7:59 AM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some of the earliest versions of the Arthur legend (and one part of Le Morte D'Arthur) have him fighting the Roman Empire -- the basic idea being that the Saxons drove out the Romans, then Arthur drove out the Saxons, then the Romans said "Hey, the Saxons are gone, I guess this means we can have Britain back", but Arthur said "Nuh-uh, I did all the work, so it's mine now". (No, this doesn't have a lot to do with actual history, no matter what Geoffrey of Monmouth thought.) Before Launcelot was invented, that's the reason Arthur was away from Camelot when Mordred staged his coup: he was off fighting the Romans.

Anyway, there's something to be said for Network = Roman Empire.
posted by baf at 10:53 AM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gary is a suicidal fuck-up who can't function in the real world, only in the elegiac past

a human's right to self-determination extends to the individual right to fuck up and/or choose a path of self-destruction

And that makes the coda for me. The movie was never about whether Gary will have his industry-standard manchild-realization moment and grow to be a better person. It's not whether our hero will potentially have worth once he grows up and properly joins society and takes his girlfriend to nice restaurants; it's whether he has worth now, today, as Gary King the abrasive fuck-up. When it's all over, if Gary doesn't choose to help rebuild civilization - if he opts to go right on being the King Arthur of Jackasses in a slightly more survivable way - then, y'know, shine on you crazy diamond. Humanity is messy and sometimes lovable.
posted by ormondsacker at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Another Jackie Chan aspect to the fight scenes: Drunken Master.
posted by larrybob at 4:50 PM on September 12, 2013


The film also made me retrospectively sort of sad that Wright/Pegg/Freeman weren't all involved with The Hitchhikers Guide. I liked Mos Def, but Pegg would have made an excellent Ford Prefect, and the story ties in so well with their preoccupations with pubs, Englishness, Sci Fi, and creating parallels between the mundane and the fantastic.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:56 PM on September 11 [5 favorites +] [!]


oh fuck that would have been amazing

I mean I actually liked the film of HHGTG and think it is totally underrated, but yes. Wright/Pegg.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:15 AM on September 13, 2013


Surprisingly, Edgar Wright _was_ involved in HHGTTG - but he just played one of the Deep Thought Technicians - imdb.
posted by memebake at 5:37 AM on September 13, 2013


Technically, Wright was involved in Hitchhikers; he played the Deep Thought Technician though he was uncredited. Can't remember the full details but he had some sort of deal with HHGTG director Garth Jennings that they would both appear in each other's first films (Jennings is ''Fun-Dead' Zombie (uncredited)' in Shaun)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:43 AM on September 13, 2013


And of course Simon and Nick were chained-up zombies in Land of the Dead.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:46 AM on September 13, 2013


Does this have a lot of vomiting in it? Or, indeed, any vomiting? I wouldn't mind watching it with my girlfriend, though I haven't been particularly excited by anything these guys have done since Shaun, but I'm not going to bother if it's got spewing in it (which I've just assumed it will because of the nature of the thing) because she is an emetophobe and I'll never hear the end of it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:26 PM on September 16, 2013


I don't remember vomiting but it might be good to go ahead and see it first.

Also that way you'll have seen it once and you'll get more of the callbacks and such. :D
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:40 PM on September 16, 2013


I like looking at the Cornetto trilogy from the standpoint of "two films do something, one film doesn't". For instance...
a) Hot Fuzz and The World's End both have a former James Bond. Shaun of the Dead doesn't.
b) Shaun of the Dead and The World's End are mash-em-ups of two genre films. Hot Fuzz is a parody/tribute.
c) Nick Frost plays the dumb one one in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. He's the smart one in The World's End.
d) "The Greater Good" is a concept in Hot Fuzz and The Wor'ds End. It's absent from Shaun of the Dead.

Bill Nighy and Bilbo Baggins break the rule by being in all three movies, but that's okay because they're fine actors.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:36 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two of the movie titles have "The" in them and one doesn't.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:55 PM on September 16, 2013


World's worst wedding host David Bradley is in Hot Fuzz and The World's End, but not Shaun of the Dead.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:14 PM on September 17, 2013


First scenes of Shaun and World's End are in a pub, Hot Fuzz not... Hot Fuzz and World's End start with back lit characters approaching camera, Shaun is a close up on Pegg... Shaun and Hot Fuzz have samples (Shaun a music cue, Hot Fuzz a medley of sirens) from previous films playing over the studio logo, World's End has a song (that also starts with a sample - but from a radio show)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:28 AM on September 18, 2013


Also, in case people didn't realize, the article mentions Barthelme's Me and Miss Mandible and links to an online version of it. That online version is hosted at jessamyn.com, which is maintained by our erstwhile moderator of the same name.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:11 PM on September 18, 2013


Finally watched Worlds End this weekend. SO and I went to a pub before in honor of "that pub crawl movie that Simon Pegg did." Left depressed and sober. Thought I was Gary King - holding on to the past that no longer matters and has no value.

And then I read this thread. Man these are some fantastic beans. But the serving is huge! Might have to reheat these and watch it again...
posted by Big_B at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2013


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