Calling time on the Cornetto Trilogy with one last hurrah, Edgar Wright’s small-town sci-fi comedy is a lager-splashed triumph. It features a great cast of Brit stalwarts – Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman – a glorious soundtrack of melon-twisting early ’90s indie and a gripping set-up that the filmmakers subvert with witty genre nods.
Unrepentant hedonist Gary King (Pegg) and his unwilling accomplices head back to their hometown of Newton Haven to complete the legendary ‘Golden Mile’, a suicidal 12-pub crawl they tried – and failed – to complete as teenagers.
It’s a terrible idea: the town’s a graveyard, the pubs are awful and these former friends have nothing in common but the ghosts of piss-ups past. Pegg and Wright are underappreciated as penmen, but their screenplay’s biggest strength is that you’d be happy to watch Gary and co’s story play out straight, even without any otherworldly interference.
Each character has something they need to run from, or recapture, and each gets a moment of pathos such as when Stephen Prince (Considine) drunkenly declares his love for local hotty Sam (Rosamund Pike), or when Peter Page (Marsan) meets his childhood bully.
The writing’s so intricate that every seemingly irrelevant detail pays off as effortlessly as Wright’s whizzy direction. The characters’ surnames denote their ranks in the group hierarchy (King, Knightley, Prince, Chamberlain, Page), and the names of the pubs nod to what happens there.
It also benefits from brilliant action scenes, numerous belly laughs and a generosity of spirit reflected in the extras (buy Blu for the full works). These include cast, tech and writers’ commentaries, plus out-takes, FX featurettes, rehearsal footage, alternate edits… There’s some overlap, but both access and insight are ace.
But what’s most surprising isn’t the laughter, it’s the sadness. Gary King is a man-child trapped in self-mythology, and his hell-raising hides a genuine problem – he can’t bear to admit the party’s over. Frankly, neither will you. TWE isn’t just the end of a great trilogy, it’s the end of an era, and by the coda, you’ll be begging for one last lock-in.
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