With such a great track record, I was worried that the new flick from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright might not meet my expectations. Surely they couldn’t do it again?
The reviews have, so far, been pretty good, but perhaps not positive enough. Some say the film is a little too long, with one too many false endings. Bollocks. I’d have happily sat through another hour. Or a whole series. Some say it falls short of its predecessor, but I completely disagree. It is much better than Shaun... thanks to perfect pacing, better detailing and all-round consistency. It's also apparent that the boys had a bigger budget to play with this time.
It is pitched to perfection. Over-zealous big city cop relocated to sleepy Gloucestershire, soon discovering mysterious deaths and plotting, his suspicions doubted and ridiculed by new colleagues. It’s dark too. Not as dark as The Empire Strikes Back of course (sorry, running gag), but dark nonetheless. Echoes of Hammer House, Tales Of The Unexpected, gruesome (really gruesome) deaths, and Englishness in spades. The key is it’s authenticity: a real supermarket (Somerfield) at its core, the ineptitude of the small town police “force”, and traditional values juxtaposed with modern day rogue elements such as “hoodies”.
The England we see is the England the rest of the world expects, which is a genuine thing in places, but undercut with that which we all suspect of these odd folk anyhow: dubious goings on and (gasp) murder. Think Straw Dogs spliced with The Wicker Man, then crossed with Last Of The Summer Wine, possibly.
Above all, it’s so bloody funny, with not a trick missed: the Neighbourhood Watch Association constantly referred to as the NWA being a typical example, and that staple of the English tourist circuit, the model village, used as a witty backdrop to one of the main action sequences. I lost count of the references to American action movies and homo-erotic cop scenes. Pegg and Frost play so well off each other, even more so than in Shaun...
With supporting performances from Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Edward Woodward, plus smaller roles for the likes of Olivia Colman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Adam (of ...and Joe fame) Buxton, Bill Bailey and countless others, I was worried it’d be all style and no substance, but I was wrong once again.
I particularly loved the moustachioed home-grown cop played by Paddy Considine. That man can do no wrong as far as I am concerned (check out Dead Mans Shoes, A Room For Romeo Brass or his awesome Rob Gretton in 24 Hour Party People for evidence.
I want to watch it again, really soon, and cannot wait to see which genre these lot use for inspiration next. We’ve had the zombie horror, and now the all-action cop buddy movie. In twenty years time there will be boxed sets of their movies, meticulously presented as classics, each DVD featuring their (piss)take of a specific film genre. I’ll bet a fiver that we get sci-fi sooner rather than later.