Friday, December 12, 2014

The World's End

"I'm a king without a crown hanging loose in the big town
But I'm the king of bongo, baby, I'm the king of bongo bong"
Manu Chao - Bongo Bong

So. What started with a pop-gun shot in the dark at horror comedy with Shaun of the Dead a decade ago has turned into a trilogy of hilarious parodies of genre films. No that's not right. Parodies *plus* would be the better term. It's most often said that comedy is a matter of timing, but while The World's End and its predecessors certainly show a mastery of the pause-to-punch ratio, what truly makes them stand out is the willingness to go the extra (golden) mile. It's in that extra bounce when a character falls to the ground, the extra splinter of wood flying when something breaks, the extra pre-verbal vocalization when a character is hemming and hawing during an embarrassing scene, the extra subtext in the name of a pub.

Crucially, it's in that extra bit of "what now" which comes after the punchline. More than Hot Fuzz or even Shaun of the Dead, The World's End drives home (in a big way) the uncomfortable realization that not everything is set to rights when a movie fades to black. Past the smoke and mirrors, after the high-kicking, in-your-face heroics, at the end of the golden mile, you're left to deal with leaden reality.

Then once again, it overturns its own moralizing. If much of the point of the movie is about the "dangers" of perpetual adolescence as quoted on wikipedia, it also does a thorough job of reminding the audience of the value of that youthful vitality. Reality is not what you make of it, but in the face of a sinisterly leaden world, only the philosopher's stone of stubborn adolescent rebellion will yield any gold whatsoever.

And it's funny. It's funny to see a washed-up self-styled king belly-flopping his way into greatness. The futility of respectability, the respectability of quixotic futility, it's all hilarious. We are ludicrous creatures, whether we bother to couch our antics in social acceptability or not. We're monkeys, and this world is our barrel. Ours, do ya hear? So grab your bestest zombie bud, damn the torpedoes and head on down to the inn to quest for adventure.

It sure as hell beats winning village of the year.

No comments:

Post a Comment