The Cornetto Trilogy is the comedic equivalent of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy for at least two reasons. First, all three films are pretty goddamn fantastic, and second, they’re not even really a trilogy. There’s no actual storyline or characters that repeat across the films, but some common themes (along with the presence of Cornetto ice cream) have turned the trio into an unofficial collective.
The World’s End is the latest and last (after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), and there’s a very good chance it’s the best of the three. Edgar Wright directs and co-writes (again) with star Simon Pegg to deliver a smart, very funny, and truly engaging piece of entertainment, and as has continually been the case, they’ve filled it with a brilliant cast. Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan join Pegg as five friends attempting to revisit their youth who find an unexpected surprise instead.
All of Wright’s films come loaded with gags and references, but this one beats them all in the sheer detailed genius of its structure and execution. Multiple viewings are required to catch them all, but the Wright and Pegg do a good job of highlighting several moments of foreshadowing and hints at what’s to come on their commentary track.
The World’s End (2013)
Commentators: Edgar Wright (director/co-writer), Simon Pegg (actor/co-writer)
1. Per Pegg, the opening scene featuring the younger gang’s introduction is essentially a road map to the events of the rest of the film. This includes the names of the pubs acting as harbingers or tarot cards of what’s to come.
2. The woman on Pegg’s left in the therapy scene is Nicola Cunningham, aka Bloody Mary, “the first zombie in Shaun of the Dead and a dear friend of ours.”
3. Gary’s outfit in the scene is blue and green which not so coincidentally is also the colors of the “blanks.” This is meant to show that at this point in his life he’s already heading in their direction, and it carries over to any and all characters dressed in blue and green. They’re all blanks! (Or at least soon to be blanks anyway.) The color scheme is so detailed that it even extends to the cars and recycling bins.
4. Martin Freeman’s younger counterpart wore a prosthetic nose to better resemble him. By contrast, Pegg wore lifts in his shoes to make his height closer to the actor who plays his younger self.
5. They actually wrote to the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), “to ask how many times we could say the word ‘cunt.’ We got a fabulous letter back telling us in very adult and plain terms exactly how many times we could say it. I think it was five.”
6. The gag with the mix tape that’s been stuck in his car’s player for over a decade is based on a real incident where a friend of Wright’s once surprised him with the same revelation. Similarly, the “let’s Boo-Boo” also evolved from a real-life exchange in his youth.
7. When the five of them are seen walking they’re always in the same formation. “We used to call it OSGAP. Oliver, Steven, Gary, Andy, Peter, and the reason that Martin and Eddie are on the outside is because when they die the central trio remains the same.”
8. They took a page from Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon and actually put the five main actors’ names on the script in place of character names. This was before casting had even begun, but was done because these were the guys they intended to play the roles.
9. Wright told Rosamund Pike that her character was based on on an old girlfriend of his. When she discovered that he’s still in touch with her on Facebook, Pike insisted that she get to meet the woman.
10. The incident with the bully who doesn’t recognize Peter came straight from Wright’s life. He recalls returning to his home town and being recognizing by everyone but the guy who used to bully him when he was growing up there.
11. Gary’s first takedown of the blank in the bathroom is called a Rock Bottom. “It’s a move perfected by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who we absolutely love, and also a term used in addiction, which is ironic.”
12. During production Wright almost tweeted “What the fuck does WTF mean?” before deciding not to “burn it on twitter” and instead use it in the film.
13. Garth Jennings, director of Son of Rambow and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, cameos as a beer drinker here. He’s in all three of the Cornetto Trilogy films.
14. The script originally featured a time-travel element as a way to explain the gang’s younger selves, but they decided time-travel stories are “too fraught with plot difficulties.” So they went with robots instead.
15. The courtyard fight scene with the twins reminds Wright of an Evil Dead-type fight sequence, and he loves it.
16. When Wright described Pierce Brosnan‘s character to him he mentioned that viewers wouldn’t be sure it was him until he spoke, but Brosnan was concerned that his voice wasn’t distinct enough. Wright laughed incredulously and proceeds to do a terrible Brosnan impression.
17. The biggest inspiration for the robots with their blindingly illuminated faces was Drew Struzan’s poster image for John Carpenter’s The Thing.
18. The fence gag was originally written to happen off-screen with only the sound reaching audiences, but they failed to shoot it during production. Happily they decided to film it proper during pick-ups weeks later.
19. The scene where the four surviving friends devolve into a dramatic argument in the abandoned bar was used as an exposition dump, to which Considine replied “Who’s going to watch fucking eight minutes of acting?” Wright adds that everyone delivered really strong performances. “Well, maybe not Simon.”
20. The tattoo on Pegg’s chest is a Sisters of Mercy design, but Wright seems more interested in how he got his abs. Pegg explains that between Mission: Impossible 3 and Ghost Protocol he was promoted to field agent and therefore exercising was a requirement.
21. The portrait in the signage for The King’s Head is of Pegg since Pegg is King.
22. They did a screening for Apple employees in Cupertino, CA, and realized that they attributed all of mankind’s technological advancements to alien intelligence. “I think they were flattered.”
23. Wright asks Pegg to explain what links the three films in the unofficial trilogy aside from the Cornetto ice cream and fence gags. “Well there’s obviously the theme of loss of identity in terms of one person facing off against a collective, the notion of a protracted adolescence, friendship… also a film that takes an accepted genre and uses it as a means of saying something else, uses horror or action or science fiction as a metaphor to say more human things.”
24. Bill Hader is allergic to peanuts.
Best in Commentary
- Wright: “There’s no symbolism to that big ‘A’ other than this is an Audi showroom.”
- Wright (to Pegg): “You look like Joel Grey in Remo: The Adventure Begins.”
- Wright: “I have twins in everything that I’ve done. Spaced, Shaun, Fuzz, Don’t, Scott Pilgrim, and this. And somebody said ‘What’s your obsession with twins?’ and I said ‘I just love symmetry.’” [to which Pegg replies: "Aww, that's a nice way of saying that you want to have sex with them."]
- Wright: “We call that the half Bilbo.”
It’s no surprise that a commentary track featuring Wright and Pegg is both entertaining and informative, and it would be easy enough to make this a list of more than a hundred things we learned. This is especially true as the Blu-ray actually features three commentaries, and all of them are well worth a listen. The World’s End is a must-own for the movie itself, but add in an abundance of fantastically fun special features and you have a Blu-ray you should probably buy twice.
Check out more commentary commentary in the Commentary Commentary archives