By Andrew Harwood
Comedy is one of the most beloved and portrayed genres of our time, meaning comedies become somewhat lackluster when compared to thrillers and melodramas. That said, it’s hard to create good comedy and insanely easy to produce awful comedy.
What makes good comedy? Aristotle denotes good comedy as when someone is “worse than they are” but laughable. I don’t think we should completely agree with the philosopher’s study. After all, if something is comedic, it’s at least inferred what you are watching is funny — it entices amusement and laughter. But does comedy denote someone as “worse than they are?” Absolutely not. Great comedy, in my opinion, is when people are at their best.
I’ve talked about comedy before, several subgenres of comedy to be exact, but I’ve never talked about my favorite comedic trilogy: the “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.
Named in homage to the beloved Italian ice cream company “Cornetto,” the trilogy consists of three films: “Shaun of the Dead,” released in 2004, “Hot Fuzz,” released in 2007, and “The World’s End,” released in 2013. “Three Flavours” is the ultimate example of visual, witty and situational comedy.
There isn’t enough time to completely dissect each film, even though I pain to do that. But, one cannot just breeze over each film. Hence, we must dive into the trilogy as a whole while also dealing with each film from a basic understanding and analysis.
“Shaun of the Dead”
“Shaun of the Dead” revolves around Pegg’s character “Shaun” and his buddy “Ed,” played by Nick Frost, as they deal with the zombie apocalypse in a perfectly humorous fashion. What makes “Shaun of the Dead” so perfect is its situational comedy and clever humor through small quips and jabs. A zombie apocalypse should be taken seriously, but not in this case. That’s the foundation of the humor: Two adult men are more preoccupied with returning to their beloved pub than actually surviving the apocalypse. Wright is clever in his camerawork too, using crash zooms and rapid-edits to emphasize the situational humor, which in itself is visual comedy. Anyone suffering through the pandemic can decide to just follow Shaun and Ed’s lead and “go to The Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over.”
This is my favorite in the trilogy, which I can attribute to Wright and Pegg’s parody of the buddy-cop genre. The entire trilogy is one large parody-work, but “Hot Fuzz” flawlessly portrays how absurd cop films are through its complete absurdism. Following Police Constable Nicholas Angel, played by Pegg, who is transferred out of London to the quiet village of Sandford, “Hot Fuzz” emphasizes how simple things can be made humorous. From throwing underage teens out of a pub, finding a sea mine in a barn and bantering between new co-workers showcases Wright and Pegg’s comedic ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. All of the films in this trilogy are well-written, but “Hot Fuzz” succeeds in telling a comedic story in conjunction with a buddy-cop mystery story. Such an accomplishment should never go unnoticed — work like this is priceless.
“The World’s End”
This film tells the story of Gary King, played by Pegg, who rounds up his childhood friends for a village pub crawl. As they return to their hometown, the gang soon notices alien entities amongst them. “The World’s End” is my least favorite of the three, mainly due to my lack of love for science-fiction films. The film parodies sci-fi tremendously, but it lacks the punch of the previous two films. “The World’s End” isn’t lacking in comedy, but it places story and characters over comedy. This shouldn’t be a bad thing, for a story makes a film. “The World’s End” contains a more sophisticated wit and bite than the others.
The “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy is the epitome of comedic genius — I will back that notion forever. A clever blend of genre, parody, wit and physical comedy, mixed with Wright and Pegg’s staple cartoonish violence and intricate storytelling, “Three Flavours” remains King of Comedy.