Edgar Wright (above center) was the first director to ever email me about a review I’d written about his film (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, in 2010). With Wright, it’s not an isolated incident. More than just about any director, he seems to actively engage with the people who write about film, which I suspect is almost as responsible for him being a darling of the fanboy community as the fact that fanboys like his movies. It’s a phenomenon we’ve touched on before, but, put simply, nerds love to get invited to the cool kid parties.
His association with the fanboy community might be a double-edged sword. Sure, he gets glowing reviews from the fanboy community by and large, but I suspect, at least in the case of Scott Pilgrim, that part of the reason it didn’t make more money was that the mainstream saw it as a niche love letter to the Comic-Con crowd. Even though, if you watch it, it’s actually at least as much a critique of repressed adolescence as it is a celebration. Does inviting too many nerds to your party keep more cool kids from showing up, to uselessly extend a metaphor? Today’s pop-culture environment rewards mindless pandering to the man-child security blanket instinct more than ever – the nostalgia-industrial complex, if you will. The reason I enjoy Edgar Wright’s work so much is that he doesn’t just pander to the pop-culture nostalgia impulse, he explores it. Where does that impulse come from? What is it doing to us?
In The World’s End, which opens in North America this Friday, Wright is back with buddies Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for the last installment of the Cornetto Trilogy. It’s a whacked out riff on trying to recapture your youth that basically takes the concept of “you can never go home again” to its most ridiculous extremes. It’s perhaps Wright’s most direct critique of prolonged adolescence yet, but the question remains, will fanboys just see it as a celebration? Will the mainstream just pigeonhole it as a fanboy movie? Is there room for nuance in this crazy, mixed-up world? And what of his gig directing Ant Man, set for 2015? I put it to the man himself in a phone interview.
[I have the full audio of the interview here too in case you hate reading.]
VM: So I think you were the first director to ever email me about a review of his own movie.
EW: Ohhh, is that a nice thing though, right?
VM: Oh yeah, for sure. And in general, you seem like you’re more active in engaging people who write about your movies. Is there a reason why? Have you ever thought about it?