The World's End
In the end, though, the current hunger for end-of-world narratives goes beyond French, British, and American postures of existential malaise. Perhaps it's reflective of a bigger trend: an embrace of humanity's messiness and "authentic" brokenness. The "just leave me be in my imperfection" mentality pervades the narratives of pop culture, with its endless array of screw-ups and amusingly broken antiheroes. It's a world where consensus on moral ideals and subsequent claims they may lay on our lives (to become some agreed-upon notion of a good person) is suspicious at best.
Maybe that's one reason apocalyptic films have captured the zeitgeist. Without a trustworthy metanarrative or compelling vision of the good life to instill in us hope and spur growth, we almost long for the end. Our directionless YOLO presentism is on some subliminal level a drag. As Douglas Rushkoff argues in Present Shock, our infinite present makes us long for endings (like zombie films): "We invent origins and endpoints as a way of bounding our experience and limiting the sense of limbo." The apocalypse offers a way out of the unbounded, aimless now. Arrested development is fun on T.V., but a sad way to live. Just ask Gary in The World's End.
Is it old-fashioned of me to long for the days when the heroes of our stories actually wanted to survive the apocalypse? Is it naïve to hope that even in the midst of our hyper-awareness of ubiquitous brokenness, we might still admire and seek to emulate the stories of people growing, learning, and striving to be better?
It probably is naïve. But the Christian hope and stubborn belief in both the possibility and necessity of transformation has always seemed that way. It's still worth believing.
The World's End is rated R for language, which is ubiquitous in the film. There are seemingly hundreds of uses of the f-word in the film. There is also a fair share of violence, but none of it is too explicit or bloody (unless you consider blue robot goo "blood"). Constant alcohol consumption in the film, and a generally cavalier attitude toward drunkenness, should also give parents pause.
Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based writer and journalist, and author of the books Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide (Baker, 2010) and Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty (Baker, 2013). You can follow him @brettmccracken.