Fanatic Cinematic: Tragedy, why are you my memory?

Movie columnist Alex Leininger on how the ‘The World’s End’ makes it easier to forgive yourself for that super embarrassing moment

Thinking back on a lot of my past life choices, I can’t help but feel a healthy amount of regret.

From, “Wow, I really should have studied more,” to, “I can’t believe I wore white after Labor Day,” a good handful of my memories (especially those of the adolescent years) have left me blushing like a Maybelline commercial. And I digress – why did I do that one thing that one day?

Why did I waste the most important moments of my youth staring at a Game Boy screen? Why did I eat Thai food like a warthog before prom? Why doesn’t Hermione Granger love me back?

These are all important questions without true answers. And as I lie here in my college apartment, dressed in SpongeBob pajama pants that just won’t quit, I can’t help but hope that my friends and family have forgotten all about these dreadful moments still haunting my thoughts to this day.

But I want you to hold on for a second, dear reader. Before you spiral off into a deep depression about your past stupidities, I want you to stop what you’re doing and think back to the good memories.

Think back to the night you wore that petrifying new outfit and gave Medusa a run for her money. Think back to that time you laughed so hard the Joker was like, “Calm down, man.” When was the last time you were surrounded by your best friends, conquering the night and feeling on top of the world?

“The World’s End,” written and directed by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (who also plays the main character, Gary King), is a movie all about those unforgettable nights. What the movie helped me realize, however, is that when it come to memories, the best ones are just as embarrassing as they are good.

King is a rambunctious, obnoxious and audacious man fixed on a golden memory from his youthful days, in which he and his good friends took on a daring pub challenge and took the town of Newton Haven by storm. The plot of “The World’s End” takes place 20 years in the future, when King convinces his friends to give the (in)famous night of their pasts another go.

Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), the scrappiest, dorkiest member of the group, has lived a life dominated by bullies. Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) is a high-strung, Bluetooth-loving buzzkill that loves to keep reality in check. Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), a once-divorced architect and former member of King’s band, has nothing meaningful in his life, and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), King’s former best friend, is only convinced to make the trip to resolve a controversial past.

Together, the five used to make up Newton Haven’s most renowned teenage troublemakers. Decades later, the middle-aged men are attempting to relive the past, and the outcome is just as entertaining and hilarious and the plot makes it out to be.

The thing about memories, as “The World’s End” brilliantly puts it, is that they’re supposed to be embarrassing, stupid and imperfect. The most important thing is that they’re memorable. Take your freshman year mistakes and turn them into a riotous journal entry. Get out the photos of yourself that you’d normally use to make a fire, and make a collage instead.

Embrace the unfortunate moments of your past. To err is human, and to take silly, trivial parts of your life too seriously is decidedly not. Your very humanity is what saves you from being just like everybody else.

OK, I’m done preaching about individuality like a guest speaker at a college orientation ceremony. But really quickly, I want to remind you of a few things.

Everyone did magnificently stupid things in the past, and everyone saw, and everyone thought it was funny. We all had our pizza-faced, brace-toothed, Abercrombie-wearing middle school years, and we were all ugly, but we were all ugly together.

Cherish the past like your unborn child who is doomed to repeat your mistakes. But remember that you are who you are today, not who you’ve been in the past.

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