Recently I watched three films in rapid succession: Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013). Although they are all distinct films with different characters and the stories are unrelated, they form a trilogy in that all three were written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, were directed by Wright, and starred Pegg and Nick Frost who plays Pegg’s sidekick. They also featured appearances by Martin Freeman (all three films), Bill Nighy (two films), Steve Coogan (one film), and two ex-Bonds Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton (one each).
All three are comedies but with over-the-top violence and gore of a cartoonish nature. The first had Pegg as an everyman, a shop assistant, who finds himself suddenly confronted with a zombie epidemic in London. The second sees him as a straight-arrow police constable with a performance record so outstanding that he shows up the incompetency of the rest of the London force who conspire to ship him off to what seems like the most peaceful village in England but once there, he stumbles upon a series of gruesome deaths that to his amazement the locals, despite all evidence to the contrary, dismiss as accidents while being intensely concerned about the menace posed by street artists. The third film deals with Pegg as a total loser, a recovering addict who rounds up his more successful high school friends to return to his small hometown to complete what they failed to do just after they graduated and that is complete an epic pub crawl. In the process the groups discovers that their hometown has changed in a mysterious way.
The films are good fun although the fight scenes sometimes tend to go on a little too long.
One common thread through all the films is the English pub which is why gave the trilogy that name. (Another one is jumping over fences.) It seems to be the center of life for all the characters. It struck me that the pub seems to be to be a uniquely English institution, a place that provides people with a sense of belonging and camaraderie, a home away from home where people regularly meet and socialize. When I visit my relatives in England, they seem to have adopted the practice and insist on ‘taking me round to the pub’ when we could have just as easily spent the evening talking at home. When I visit my cousins in Australia or New Zealand, where English cultural influences are strong, that does not happen.
I don’t think that the coffee shops and bars in the US have that same quality of attracting their customers on a nightly basis. But since I am someone who never frequents bars and thinks that a good time is one spent quietly at home, maybe I am wrong. Maybe readers in other countries of the world could point to similar institutions.
Here are trailers for the three films.