“We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing, have a bite at the King’s Head, couple at the Little Princess, stagger back here, bang! Back at the bar for shots.”
And so Nick Frost’s Ed outlines the whole plot of Shaun of the Dead right at the start of the movie. It’s subtleties like these that make Edgar Wright’s movies as rewarding as that moment you spot Beetlejuice in Community. The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) is packed to the brim with these things that make Wright such a delight to have making movies.
Growing up, I had no real idea what each of the people behind the scenes on a movie set did. I knew Shaun of the Dead was hilarious, and I put this down to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost having incredible chemistry, able to turn anything they touch into comedic gold. After having watched Paul and Scott Pilgrim vs The World, it was clear that Edgar Wright was the one with the magic, since not even Pegg and Frost’s charm can save the Gret Mottola-directed Paul from being an endurance test, while Scott Pilgrim contained the same love and passion I’d come to expect from a Wright-directed flick.
You get the sense Wright directs films he would want to watch. Scott Pilgrim is packed to breaking point with videogame references and faithful page-to-screen scenes that any supernerd who was excited for the film adored. Whether it was opening a door to the Zelda “get item” audio cue or Scott and Ramona’s chat in bed, in many ways taken line for line from the comic, Scott Pilgrim felt like a labour of love that didn’t want to let anyone down.
As someone who appreciates soundtracks to films but rarely engages with them outside of the cinema, Scott Pilgrim also excelled at capturing a garage-rock lo-fi tone that made for one of the more enjoyable collections of songs for a soundtrack in recent memory. In particular the duo of ‘It’s Getting Boring by the Sea’ by Blood Red Shoes and ‘Black Sheep’ by Metric, the latter performed by Brie Larson in the movie, are excellent tracks showcasing the type of music Sex Bob-omb could be making as long as they don’t sell out to Gideon. Sex Bob-omb’s ‘Garbage Truck’ and ‘Threshold’ are both endearing, with Wright making the masterful decision to get Beck involved to capture the band perfectly.
And where do you even begin with the trilogy. Immensely quotable, self-referential as it progressed, and incredibly charming, it was a collection of movies it was sad to see end. The final Cornetto reference was even a tad emotional, after the first two were repeated throwaway gags. Sure, The World’s End wasn’t quite on the same level, but Gary King’s final speech to The Network was oddly inspiring to fuck ups the world over. Every time I see anyone with a beard, it has to be “a great big bushy beard!” Any utterance of the words “the greater good” has to be repeated, preferably with a West Country accent.
Even his devotion to the genre is awe inspiring. Shaun of the Dead, as a romantic comedy with zombies (romcomzom), has touching moments of romance and heartbreak between the leads, with Shaun proving his worth to Liz, and Dianne coming to grips with David’s emotions for Liz. Sounds like a typical romance movie, except there are zombies. Hot Fuzz’s references to action films all culminate with a half hour long, absolutely mental shootout which will go down with the greats, like Bad Boys II, it seeks to pay homage to. The World’s End nails the “something isn’t quite right here” atmosphere felt in apocalyptic movies, before leading into explosions that Michael Bay would find impressive, except in a small English town rather than capital American cities.
Edgar Wright, to me, makes movies that are timeless. It could be because there are layers you won’t even begin to touch on the first viewing, or because you feel like part of a gang when you watch them, but they are never a one-time affair. Next time you see me, ask “Gelato isn’t vegan?” so I can say “it’s milk and eggs, bitch.”
[Scott Wilson – @HeartofFire]