Edgar Wright's Holy Trinity of Comedy
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English director, Edgar Wright has produced some of the most well-recieved films over the course of his nearly two decade long career in the film industry. With his unique comedy, distinct editing style, and impressive writing skills, there's no wonder why he has accumulated such a dedicated fanbase. While American audiences might know him for his recent work, including Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Baby Driver, and Last Night In Soho, perhaps his most universally renowned work came from his signature British comedy films he began producing in 2004, The Cornetto Trilogy.
The Cornetto trilogy consists of 2004's Shaun of the Dead, 2007's Hot Fuzz, and 2013's The World's End. These stories have virtually nothing to do with each other, what ties them together is the similar comedy, editing, ridiculous conflict, and a nearly identical cast throughout the saga. All three star Simon Pegg in the lead role with Nick Frost playing the comic relief, Bill Highy, Rafe Spall, and Martin Freeman also have minor roles in the films. Pegg worked as a writer alongside Wright during production. What separates The Cornetto Trilogy from the average British comedy series is a clear sense of identity. Even if you are not familiar with directors it is clear that these movies all came from the same mind.
Perhaps the most distinct aspect of Edgar Wright's films are his signature style of editing, utilizing whip pans, dolly zooms, steady cam tracking, and fast-paced mini-montages all set to expressive, recognizable music. All three films in The Cornetto Trilogy exhibit humor that is undeniably British but that doesn't mean non-British audiences will feel alienated, even as an American, they are three of the funniest movies I've ever seen.
The first and easily most beloved installment, Shaun of the Dead is a horror comedy with an absurd plot. Simon Pegg plays 29 year old Shaun who works at a dead end job, lives with his slacker best friend, Ed, and overbearing roommate, Pete. His girlfriend, Liz has recently broken up with him due to the his lack of direction and motivation in life. Then seemingly out of nowhere, a zombie outbreak takes control of Shaun's town. With the help of his mother, best friend, step father, ex girlfriend, and her irritating roommates, Shaun attempts to survive the zombie apocalypse. What makes Shaun of the Dead so entertaining to watch is just how much it pokes fun of the zombie movie genre, it's a parody of zombie movies the same way Little Shop of Horrors is a parody of monster movies. It's not like The Walking Dead where everyone is an expert survivalist with an arsenal of weapons, the characters are normal brits in a normal town. It's a little hard to explain what makes Shaun of the Dead so enjoyable and iconic, but if you take the time to watch it for yourself, I guarantee you'll fall in love with it.
The second installment in The Cornetto Trilogy is perhaps the most critically acclaimed, 2007's Hot Fuzz. A buddy-cop comedy where instead of zombies, the absurd antagonist is a town-wide cult conspiracy in the English country. This time Pegg plays Sergeant, Nicholas Angel, a police officer who's considered to be one of the best in London, his entire life is centered around his job and he has a hard time separating his personal and professional life. Because his superiors decided he was "too good" at his job, he gets transferred from London to Sanford, Gloucestershire, deep in the country with the lowest crime rate in the entire country. It's surprisingly a lot more gory than the literal zombie movie. Along with Scott Pilgrim, I like to point to Hot Fuzz as a prime example of Edgar Wright's editing style. All of the uninteresting parts of being a police officer like doing paperwork and taking mugshots of underage pub-goers are filmed like some epic montage. In terms of production value, it's probably the most appealing to watch in the trilogy and it's the kind of movie you never really get tired of.
For the longest time, The Cornetto Trilogy wasn't exactly...a trilogy. The first two movies were released about three years apart but the final installment didn't come out until 2013, a full six years after Hot Fuzz, that movie being, The World's End. The World's End is probably the least popular and well-received of the three...it also happens to be my favorite. It follows the character, Gary King, an irresponsible jackass who peaked in high school, as he returns to his home town with his high school friends in an attempt to finish a 12 part pub crawl. It's a fairly normal story until the reliable Edgar Wright twists comes into play, and the characters discover that everyone in their town has been replaced with aliens. There's plenty of laugh out loud comedy and an organized plot to follow, however it also has the most amount of heart out of any one in the trilogy. The aliens in this universe have a mission of replacing everyone in the town in order to make the human race "perfect." Through the jokes and drunk humor, there's also a strong message about the "basic human right to be a fuckup" and it's surprisingly nice to hear. Not to mention, Gary King is hands down my favorite character in the entire series. Out of the three installments, it definitely takes itself the least seriously, which is a huge part of the appeal. There's no doubt I'll be rewatching this soon enough.
There isn't anything quite like Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy. It's a testament to the director and cast's creativity and in a way, represents everything I love about film. All three movies exhibit such unbridled creativity and you can tell just how much care and effort went into making them. To me, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End have cemented Edgar Wright as one of the most entertaining and visionary directors working on the scene today. I know it's a long shot, but I genuinely hope it doesn't stay a trilogy for much longer, hopefully the minds of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg produce another masterpiece soon enough.