By Jake Sapsford

Following the releases of both Shaun of the Dead in 2004 and Hot Fuzz in 2007, my interest peaked as a teenager and I started to be heavily invested in the work of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. Therefore, my expectations for the third and final film of the ‘Cornetto trilogy’ were high. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was my personal favourite.

The film introduces Gary King, (Pegg) a middle-aged alcoholic, who has never allowed himself to move on from the exuberant days of his teenage life. King rounds up his old school friends: Andy Knightley, (Frost) Steven Prince, (Paddy Considine) Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) and Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman,) looking to rediscover his childhood glory. The group head back to their old childhood town, Newton Haven, and that is where the action of the movie takes place.

As teens, the group embarked on and failed to complete a legendary bar crawl, and the group of now middle-aged men reluctantly agree to attempt the same crawl again. As the crawl of 12 pints gathers pace, more and more sinister events begin to take place: Whilst the group get more drunk as the crawl goes on, the threat from an unknown entity grows. King and Knightley must put behind their past tension and unite to keep themselves and mankind alive.

The characterisation of the main protagonist is the best element of the movie for me. King’s character development is evident throughout, as he starts to lose his status as an anti-hero because the audience begins to understand his motivations. He starts the movie as a hilarious but selfish character:  King cared only for the pub crawl and not seeing his old friends again, admitting that he hadn’t made the effort to keep in contact with Page as had lost his phone number. Another example was that Gary lied about his mother’s death, and that is an additional aspect of his anti-heroic characterisation. As he lied for his own selfish desires to create sympathy, this was the only reason that Knightley joined the group.

However, hints of a different character underneath the surface are present in the opening scene and are painfully explored in the final confrontation between King and Knightley. There is an ironic switch in the opening scene, as hints of glory and friendship are abolished as present day is introduced. King introduces his story from an alcoholic support group, underlying that his life has never lived up to the glory. This is the first hint of the film’s theme of loss of childhood and growing up, and it is hinted at throughout to develop King’s character. This is done with the intention of making the final confrontation more impactful. With possible hints of a failed suicide attempt, Gary’s attempts to rediscover his childhood are made clear: He doesn’t want to grow up because he can’t, so attempts to grab onto his childhood in any way possible. The scene is also made more powerful by the acting abilities of both Pegg and Frost, and I believe that this film involves their best performances of the trilogy.

Whilst the ending has been deemed controversial because of its dark undertones, it gives King new intentions, and a purpose. Whilst it takes a dark turn, at least King is able to move on in his life as he orders tap-water in the final scene, as he looks to take on the Network again.

Frost’s character development is also very nicely written. Knightley changes from a reserved rule-follower into a badass, thanks to an eventual consumption of alcohol. There are also constant reminders of an event in his past that is finally explored in the final confrontation between King and Knightley. This builds up tension throughout and adds a deeper meaning to their relationship and why it has turned so sour.

Edgar Wright also directed and helped Pegg write the plot, and the film stylistically follows a similar pattern to the two previous films. The opening is written precisely to foreshadow the later events of the film. The pubs are also named to reflect different stages of the evening which is also a stylistic tactic. ‘The beehive’ is where the group are convinced to join as a cohesive unit, for example.

The movie is a must watch and is my favourite of the trilogy because of the emotionally complex and detailed characters. It is also the best because it manages to maintain a ‘laugh a minute’ watch, which is something that not every comedy can manage. As a sci-fi comedy, it delivers in every way.

Five years on from the release of this film, anticipation is building again ahead of Pegg and Frost’s latest film project. ‘Slaughterhouse Rulez’ has a Halloween release date in the United Kingdom. Whilst Edgar Wright isn’t involved, there is another opportunity for Pegg and Frost to work together and that alone will should get audiences interested – I am anyway.

 

About The Author