With "The World's End," the reunited trio of writer-director Edgar Wright, co-writer and actor Simon Pegg and actor Nick Frost may have destroyed the world, but they have saved summer movies.
"The World's End" is the third in their "blood and ice cream" trilogy — so called because each film contains a reference to Cornetto brand ice cream — and arguably the team's strongest work.
Following their work on the sitcom "Spaced," Wright, Pegg and Frost made their feature debut with the cult-classic zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead."
Their cop movie spoof "Hot Fuzz" was released before they parted ways so Wright could make "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and Pegg and Frost could make the space alien comedy "Paul."
"I think a lot of people have been burned out on the fact that a lot of blockbusters feel the same," says Wright, who recently visited San Francisco with his two cohorts. "The thing we tried to do with our films, even though there's maximum devastation, it's always about the characters."
In the vein of "25th Hour" or "The Big Chill," "The World's End" is initially about a reunion of five friends (played by Pegg, Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan).
They return to their hometown to re-create a legendary pub-crawl called the Golden Mile — 12 pints in 12 pubs.
Unfortunately, stranger, more otherworldly things are afoot. Pegg explains that all 12 pub signs show clues of what's going to happen to the characters inside.
"The sci-fi is just — to use a word from 'Shaun of the Dead' — an exacerbation of their troubles. It's not the entire focus of the film," Pegg says. "We didn't want people to forget they were watching a comedy, but not to feel strange about experiencing some real emotion. Some friends of ours came up and said, 'It was really funny but I cried!'"
"We like doing that," Wright adds. "A lot of comedies, you could laugh for 100 minutes straight and completely forget it by the time you get to your car."
"Like eating a rice cake," Frost interjects. "Do you know what I mean? It's there for a second and then gone and forgotten. You never remember a great rice cake."
"I like to think of this film as like chocolate with sea salt in it," Wright says. "With this, hopefully there's something to chew on the next day. Got you all hungry, didn't I?"
Imagine “E.T.” recast as a low-rent comedy, conceived by the cheerfully profane “Shaun of the Dead” co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and you should have some idea what to expect from “Paul,” their first big-screen collaboration as screenwriters.