Sony Pictures has recently released the action comedy “Baby Driver” into theaters nationwide and the film has quickly become the talk of the town. Thanks to the film’s action-packed marketing and stellar reviews, “Baby Driver” grossed nearly $30 million in its first five days. It doesn’t seem like much, especially compared to the $70 million-plus “Despicable Me 3,” which opened the same weekend as “Driver”, made in its first three days, but, “Driver” was still a pretty important film for director Edgar Wright.
The English director, best known for directing the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” is considered by many to be one of the best directors working today, thanks to his sharp direction, snappy editing and witty dialogue. But in spite of the critical accolades he has received throughout the years, he is still an unknown to most audiences. Films like “Hot Fuzz” and “Scott Pilgrim” made very little money in theaters, becoming underground cult classics years after their release. But with its star-studded cast and massive buzz after its premiere at the 2017 SXSW Festival, “Baby Driver” quickly became Wright’s highest-grossing movie in the United States and Canada in less than a to now discover his underrated gems. Ranking from the worst to the best (although his worst is still worth watching), the following are all films anyone who loves good comedy must-see.
5. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”
I’m sure many people would be surprised I’d place this movie at the bottom, as it was the film which largely introduced Americans to the style and work of Wright. While I do appreciate a lot of the ideas and filmmaking techniques, there are a lot of issues that hold me back from seeing it as the underrated gem many others make it out to be. The video game-inspired comedy, about a slacker musician played by Michael Cera who must defeat his girlfriend’s seven evil exes, has a very unique style, embracing comic book-inspired phrases and video game tropes like 1-Ups and ridiculous weapons and powerups, which adds a unique execution and gives the film an enjoyable energy.
“Scott Pilgrim” also features a lot of cast members before they blew up and became big names in Hollywood, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Chris Evans and Aubrey Plaza to name just a few. And with so many talented actors, the film shines thanks to the charisma of many of its performers, with Larson as Scott’s ex-girlfriend and Kieran Culkin as the gay best friend Wallace being highlights.
Unfortunately, a lot of the film doesn’t work and most of it comes down to Cera. Maybe it’s the fact I never really found his ultra-quiet nerd shtick to be funny or likable, but he really sticks out like a sore thumb and makes a lot of scenes that could be great somewhat hard to sit through. This also makes the opening a huge slog to get through, as seeing Cera complain about his relationship trouble is not why I’d watch any movie
However, there’s still a lot of good elements to the movie and even as someone who didn’t love it, I can see why “Scott Pilgrim’s” anime and video game inspired presentation and creative story has helped make it a cult classic.
4. “The World’s End”
This sci-fi comedy is the third and final film in the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy,” a trilogy of unrelated films which share the theme of having the same director, the same leads (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) and some sort of reference to Cornetto ice cream, a popular brand in the UK. “The World’s End” is the weakest of the three, but it’s still an absolute blast.
Focusing on a group of old childhood friends who discover an alien invasion occurring in their hometown while attempting a pub crawl across their town’s twelve pubs, the most interesting gamble the film takes is reversing the roles Pegg and Frost usually take in the other “Cornetto” films. Instead of Simon Pegg being the straight man, he’s the immature wisecracker. Instead of Nick Frost being the goofball, he’s the mature stick in the mud. Thankfully the gamble has paid off, as both actors were able to play complete opposites and were riotously entertaining.
The film’s satirization of alien invasion movies is also on point, allowing for a lot of great action sequences and a clever look at some existentialist themes about humanity. It even has a strong emotional heart, as Pegg’s character Gary King tries to break through his “Peter Pan syndrome” and try to be like his well-off adult friends.
The only major flaw that holds it back from being as good as the other “Cornetto” movies comes down to its antagonist and its third act, which is nowhere near as threatening, clever or exciting as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” But the film still offers plenty of laughs, plenty of great sequences and plenty of memorable characters and cameos, so it’s still imperative to check out.
3. “Baby Driver”
Many people have already gone out of their way to see it, but I still feel it’s worth recommending, especially for those who are still on the fence. This heist movie about a music-obsessed getaway driver offers some of the craziest and most ridiculous car chases ever put onto film, with several sequences rivaling the “Fast and Furious” series in terms of quality. Heightened even further by the film’s sound editing and mixing. The film’s structured around the main character Baby’s iPod playlist, and the way the film edits its action and many of its other sequences is through the rhythm and music cues found in Baby’s soundtrack. It offers a unique way of editing action scenes and puts the audience into the mind of its main character.
The cast also adds to the movie’s charm. Ansel Elgort works as a charming young lead, Lily James as the love interest is very likable and the supporting cast, led by Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, are all memorable and entertaining, making the rest of the film an absolute blast.
“Baby Driver” works as an action movie, a heist film, a comedy and as a stylish music video, making it an easy must-watch. And since it will still be playing in a good majority of theaters by the time this article is published, there’s zero reason not to check it out.
2. “Shaun of the Dead”
The first movie Edgar Wright ever directed and the first movie in the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy,” “Shaun of the Dead” was a strong beginning to a great legacy. Satirizing zombie films, “Shaun” takes the idea of a zombie apocalypse and pokes fun at the conventions and tropes found within the idea. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are a perfect duo and offer most of the laughs thanks to their chemistry and the dialogue written by both Pegg and Wright. “Shaun” also features surprisingly strong emotion, asking the audience what you would do if a zombie bit your friends or family.
The climax is the highlight of the film, featuring hearty laughs, fun action and plenty of suspenseful moments. Even after nearly fifteen years, “Shaun of the Dead” still holds up as a riotous zombie comedy and helped pave the way for one of the best directors working today.
1. “Hot Fuzz”
“Hot Fuzz” is the second film in the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy,” and is without a doubt Wright’s best film and one of the funniest movies of the millennium. Satirizing action and buddy cop movies, “Fuzz” looks at a strange series of murders happening in a small English village. The best part about the film comes down to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They are a perfect duo, with Pegg as the overachieving skeptic and Frost as the goofy slacker. They both manage to parody the ridiculous tropes found within the buddy cop genre, while still offering plenty of dimension and heart to their characters.
But what really makes this movie special is its comedy, as every single joke is thrown into the movie. Over-the-top jokes, subtle jokes, audio jokes, visual jokes, musical jokes, jokes in the foreground, jokes in the background, the list goes on and on, and all of them hit bullseyes thanks to Wright’s unique vision and strong combination of editing, writing, acting and directing. It’s simply a comedy masterpiece and should be watched by everyone at least once in their lifetime.
All of his films are available to purchase on Blu-Ray or digitally and “Hot Fuzz” is also available on Netflix US, so if any readers have a love for British comedy or want to see more after watching “Baby Driver,” there are plenty of great ways to experience the work of one of the most underrated directors working today.