The Cornetto Trilogy— comprised of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End— are some of the most beloved comedies in years. Directed by Edgar Wright; written by Wright and Simon Pegg; and starring Pegg and Nick Frost; the Cornetto trilogy is not a “trilogy” in the traditional sense. None of the movies are connected by either story or character, but they do share a creative team and many of the same actors.
Beyond cast and crew, there is some connecting tissues between the three movies by way of running jokes and themes, rewarding fans who fully absorb the previous movie before moving onto the next one (and back again).
Cornettos, a type of ice cream treat, aren’t very funny in and of themselves, but they are the namesake of the trilogy owing to their appearance in all three films. More specifically, each respective color of the Cornetto is also meant to align with the genre that that movie is in.
Shaun of the Dead features a red Cornetto, representing blood and zombies. In Hot Fuzz, a blue Cornetto wrapper can be spotted, representing the police. And in The World’s End, a green Cornetto wrapper flies by in the ending montage, representing aliens.
9 “Want Anything From The Shop?”
“Want anything from the shop?” is a recurring line throughout two of the Cornetto movies— Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. In the former, Shaun asks Ed if he wants anything from the shop the morning after their big drinking binge, to which he enthusiastically responds, “Cornetto.” In Hot Fuzz, it’s Nick Frost’s Danny who asks Pegg’s Nicholas if he wants anything from the shop, and Nicholas responds in a more dejected manner owing to having lost the case.
8 The Fence Gag
Perhaps the most obvious recurring joke throughout all three movies is the fence gag. In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun attempts to coolly hop a backyard fence, only to fall straight on his side as it collapses underneath him. In World’s End, Gary climbs a fence and falls flat on his face as the fence falls straight forward. Hot Fuzz subverts the joke— rather than hopping over the fence and having it collapse, Danny simply runs straight through it.
Twins are featured prominently in both Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. In Hot Fuzz, Bill Bailey plays a pair of twins who oversee the police station’s desk. This is mostly played for a laugh, as one has combed and styled hair while the other has untamed, curly hair.
Nicholas doesn’t realize that they’re twins and simply thinks that his hair changes from day to day. In The World’s End, two identical twin robots attack Sam. Beforehand, Gary discusses sleeping with twins in his teenage years and how “creepy” it was owing to their identical nature.
6 Movie Within A Movie
In Europe, the DVD cover of Shaun of the Dead depicts Shaun squashed in a red train with numerous zombies. This cover can be very briefly spotted in Hot Fuzz in the discount DVD bin. Right after Danny reads the blurb on Super Cop, he reacts to Nicholas chasing a perp and throws it back into the bin. It’s then that the cover of Shaun of the Dead can be seen. However, a sticker has been placed over Simon Pegg’s face and the movie has been renamed Zombies Party to make it a little less obvious.
5 Hollywood Action In Quaint England
Before the Cornetto Trilogy, there was Spaced, which director Edgar Wright described as a show about American action movie tropes hilariously clashing with the idea of chill London culture. This “joke” continued with and recurs throughout the Cornetto trilogy. In Shaun, the characters go to the pub to wait for the zombie apocalypse to “blow over.” Hot Fuzz sees bombastic Hollywood action and a murderous conspiracy playing out in a quaint, sleepy English village. And in The World’s End, the titular apocalypse originates in the small English town of Newton Haven.
4 The King’s Head
A pub named The King’s Head appears in both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. In Shaun, Ed mentions the pub when explaining his plan for the next day, saying, “We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing, have a bite at The King’s Head…” In The World’s End, The King’s Head is one of the final pubs on the crawl.
There’s an added layer of brilliance to this gag, as the logo for The King’s Head depicts someone who looks suspiciously like Simon Pegg, who is playing a character named Gary King. It’s literally the (Gary) King’s head.
Foreshadowing is extensively used in all three films, each to brilliant success. In Shaun, Ed’s detailed plan to Shaun actually foreshadows the rest of the movie. Hot Fuzz is absolutely brimming and overflowing with foreshadowing. And in The World’s End, Gary’s story about the failed first crawl foreshadows exactly what will happen on the second crawl. The pub names also detail what will happen within them (The Old Familiar is exactly like The First Post, The Trusty Servant is the Reverend Green, etc.).
2 Shared Actors
It’s quite obvious to anyone watching the films, but the Cornetto Trilogy shares many common actors— not just Pegg and Frost. In fact, Julia Deakin, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Rafe Spall, and Patricia Franklin all appear in all three movies. As far as actors who appear in two of the three, the list is even longer, including Reece Shearsmith, Michael Smiley, Nicola Cunningham, David Bradley, Paddy Considine, and Alice Lowe.
1 Growing Up
While all three Cornetto films are absurdly funny, they also have a touching theme at their cores— the need to grow up. Shaun must “sort his life out” by winning back Liz, strengthening the relationship with his mom and stepdad, and attaining some ambition. Nicholas needs to learn how to loosen up and let people in while Danny needs to grow up, take off the blinders, and take action against his father. And Gary is a total mess who needs to stop drinking and grow out of the past.
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