11 comedies that inspired Edgar Wright
English filmmaker Edgar Wright has attracted a loyal following worldwide due to the immense success of his comedic masterpieces as Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs the world, among others. He is the recipient of several prestigious distinctions, with multiple victories for the brilliantly subversive Shaun of the Dead screenplay he co-wrote with film star Simon Pegg.
Wright has received critical acclaim for his distinctive approach to comedy, utilizing the full visual potential of the cinematic medium instead of just relying on a fun storyline. The kinetic camera movement and conscious editing employed by Wright form essential elements of a visual comic language, resulting in a truly complete cinematic experience.
In one interview with Vulture, Wright explained, “There is a science to visual comedy and the timing of things. It is no coincidence that in comedies or horror films people use the term “gag”. As you grow up watching all kinds of genre films, you become very aware that a perfectly timed visual gag is not millions of miles away from a shock. A visual joke is about timing and composition.
Adding, “It’s interesting to me when comedy and horror filmmakers talk the same about how to create a visual joke or visual shock, because it’s always about overturning an expectation. The element of surprise, composition, timing and sound – all of the elements are the same for the best kind of “boo!” Shock in a movie and the best visual joke in a movie.
Asked about the impact of his influences on his own work, Wright said: “If you think about Baby Driver like a movie that isn’t a real comedy but makes you laugh, even if uncomfortable you might be thinking about the Coen brothers stuff. They are good at making larger comedies like Elevate Arizona or Grand Lebowski, but there are pieces in There is no country for old people where things are so incredibly tense, but a line of dialogue will be laughing at because it’s like a release.
“Same thing with pulp Fiction when they accidentally shoot Marvin’s head. When I saw that at the movies, people laughed for two minutes straight. It plays like the funniest thing ever because there is a burlesque element to it. Baby Driver tries to overlap those moments of tension and those moments of comedic relief.
Check out Edgar Wright’s full list of essential comedy genre recommendations, ranging from Jacques Tati to John Carpenter.
11 comedies recommended by Edgar Wright:
- The Ladies Killers (Alexander Mackendrick – 1955)
- The exterminating angel (Luis Buñuel – 1962)
- Break (Jacques Tati – 1967)
- Black Star (John Carpenter – 1974)
- An American werewolf in London (Jean Landis – 1981)
- Top secret! (Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker – 1984)
- deli (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro – 1991)
- Riki-Oh: Ricky’s Story (Lam Ngai-Kai – 1991)
- Waiting for Guffman (Christophe Guest – 1996)
- Four Lions (Chris Morris – 2010)
- A cup of the dead (Shinichiro Ueda – 2017)
While discussing the brilliance of John Landis, Wright said, “Then you have directors – and this is where the Venn diagram gets really specific to me – like John Landis. One of the most influential movies for me growing up was An American werewolf in London.
“Here you have a comedy director who takes on horror and plays them both. For me, this is the movie that really blew my head off because Landis created some of the best shocks ever created using what could be the same structure as a comedy.