I often wonder what my favourite movie trilogy is, and worry that they all seem to fall at the last hurdle. It can’t be the Godfather trilogy because of The Godfather Part III, it can’t be the The Lord of the Rings because of Hobbits and it can’t be the Spider-Man trilogy because I’m not a fucking idiot. So it’s a relief to see that the concluding part of the Cornetto trilogy does not disappoint.
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright reunite to write one final night of frights and fights. I’ll stop rhyming now. Pegg plays Gary King, a washed-up loser who is determined to complete a pub crawl that was abandoned 20 years earlier. Stuck firmly in his glory days, he rounds up his school friends and they head for their home town, where things have changed more than they could have ever imagined.
As with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this is a joyous mixture of movie homage, satire of British culture and lots of funny swearing. All three share gags, style and themes but are also impressively different. It’s easy to underrate Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as actors, but in each film they play distinct and developed characters, whose touching friendship forms the heart of the drama.
While Shaun of the Dead was about city life and Hot Fuzz rural villages, The World’s End chooses as its target new towns, and does a nice job of attacking their sterility and depressing lack of character; Welwyn Garden City is a perfect choice of location. It also captures the feeling of nostalgia, of longing for a time when the world felt so simple and you felt so free. But The World’s End is never sentimental, in fact it gets surprisingly dark and that is to its credit.
Crucially, though, it’s brilliantly funny thanks to the unique rhythm of the dialogue, Wright’s trademark direction and the excellent cast; Martin Freeman, Mark Heap and just about every other male British comedy actor makes an appearance. It’s perhaps weaker than the previous two films, but is nonetheless a strong end to the Cornetto trilogy.
Perhaps the best thing about Pegg, Wright and Frost’s films is that, while the budgets grew and their profiles rocketed, their sensibilities never changed. Just like the first two, this last instalment feels like the loving work of three film fans who sat in a pub saying: “Wouldn’t it be cool to set a siege in here?” The unexpected but completely deserved success of Shaun of the Dead allowed them to do just that. Three times.