NEW YORK — As they burst into the room together — boisterously — Simon Pegg and Nick Frost looked like they could be a pair of blokes fresh from a rugby match out for a few pints at the local pub.
Pegg, the wiry, feral, fast-talking wise guy in black T-shirt, and Frost, the lumbering, good-natured lug in the red Adidas jacket, have been pals for 20 years and have honed a riotous Britcom style of patter that seems to come tripping off their tongues as they make the rounds talking up their latest movie.
Appropriately enough, it's a pub-crawl comedy called “The World's End,” and it's the third in a nominal trilogy that started with 2004's zombie-whacking “Shaun of the Dead,” followed by 2007's city-copper/country-copper caper “Hot Fuzz.”
At first blush, “The World's End” sets up as a “Big Chill”-style reunion picture in which Pegg's rabble-rousing man-child Gary King pulls together a band of reluctant mates from his high-school glory days to complete “The Golden Mile,” an epic 12-stop pub crawl that they fell short of finishing in their youth. The final stop is the fabled pub The World's End, and it gives ample hint of the over-the-top, apocalyptic adventures awaiting these middle-aged imbibers.
As with the first two films, this script was co-written by Pegg and Edgar Wright and directed by Wright, and while each movie tells a different story with unique characters, the three are loosely linked in style, theme and connecting gags.
“After ‘Shaun of the Dead,' we never would have been so arrogant to think we'd be given the opportunity to do a trilogy,” Pegg said during press interviews hosted by Focus Features at a suite in the Waldorf Astoria. “When we came to do ‘Hot Fuzz,' we realized that what we'd done is create two films that were sort of tonally sequential — not direct sequels — but were thematically linked.
“So we began thinking if we could make a third one we could have three films that you could conceivably regard as a trilogy and see that we were developing and refining certain ideas over time, in the same way that a filmmaker like Woody Allen went off and returned to similar preoccupations that he has,” Pegg said.
“We thought if we did it succinctly over three films it would be something that perhaps hadn't been seen before,” Pegg said. “Even to the point of having a joke that takes place over three films. So the fence gag (in each film a character takes a comic shortcut by jumping over — or through — a fence) is like a three-part gag. And comedy often is constructed by the Hegelian ‘thesis, antithesis, synthesis' thing. So we kind of figured that would be good. It sounds lofty, but really it was an accident.”
But enough with this brainy analysis, Frost interrupted. He wanted to talk about the film's rousing martial arts — what he calls its “punchin' and kickin'.”
As the five pub pilgrims — Pegg's Gary, Frost's Andy and pals Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan) — zigzag through the quaint village streets of little Newton Haven, the pints pile up and the fights (with some surprising adversaries) break out. And this required that the actors undergo rigorous martial arts training, for which the portly Frost said he was well suited.
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