Synopsis: Get ready for a gut-busting, outrageous comedy from the guys that created Shaun Of The Dead. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a big-city cop who can’t be stopped – but he’s making everyone else on the force look bad. When he is reassigned to a small, quiet town, he struggles with this new, seemingly idyllic world and his bumbling partner (Nick Frost). But their dull existence is interrupted by several grisly and suspicious accidents, and the crime-fighting duo turn up the heat and hand out high-octane, car-chasing, gun-fighting, big-city justice in this hilarious hit.
Hot Fuzz 8.0
eyelights: the stylish direction. its clever script. the humour. Simon Pegg’s performance. Timothy Dalton.
eyesores: the triple ending. there are no real surprises.
“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a police officer… apart from the summer of 1979 when I wanted to be Kermit the Frog.”
Following their massive success with ‘Shaun of the Dead‘ (for a low budget British film), Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost decided to make another motion picture together. Instead of doing a sequel, as many might, the trio decided to make an entirely different kind of picture, this time spoofing buddy cop action films instead of zombie pictures.
‘Hot Fuzz’ stars Simon Pegg as Nicholas Angel, a tough, by-the-book cop who is so efficient in his work that his supervisors promote him out of their precinct and into a faraway small town to stop him from making them all look comparatively incompetent. Suddenly isolated, he has to acquaint himself with the locals and their maddeningly small-town ways.
What he soon discovers is that the police department plays it loose with the rules, including the Inspector/Chief of Police, whose son, Danny (played by Nick Frost), constantly gets into some sort of trouble; he runs the show in a convivial fashion, trying to sort out the town’s issues in the most agreeable way possible. Evidently, Angel has a terrible time adjusting to this.
Sadly for him, Sandford is pretty much a crime-free town, and he has very little to do. But it wouldn’t be long before a series of accidents lead him to the conclusion that all is not well in this small, sleepy town. Saddled with Danny as his new partner, he tries to gather all the clues and track down what he thinks is a serial killer terrorizing the locals. What is going on in Sandford?
Wright and Pegg, who co-wrote the script, did extensive research to make this film. Not only did they consult with dozens of police officers to get their facts right, they also watched well over 100 hundred cop pictures to get a sense of the generic plot points and key dialogues that are inherent to the genre. The script took a good year and a half to complete.
In my estimation, ‘Hot Fuzz’ is better appreciated by connoisseurs of action films, as it’s built around all the genre’s conventions and derives its inspiration from many of the notable Hollywood entries of the last 40 years. In that sense, it’s the perfect action film, in that it delivers everything one might expect out of a buddy-cop movie. But it’s also a spoof. And an homage too.
So, although one might get more out of it by being aware of the genre, it’s difficult to dislike the film even without such extensive knowledge; it’s truly a well-constructed piece and it holds up against those it emulates. But much of the humour is lost without that background information – so many of the gags are subtle references or even contrasts to other films.
And that’s often been my problem with Pegg and Frost’s work together: you need to be well-versed in a certain slice of pop culture to truly savour what they are doing. Their films are excellent, and it’s hard to discredit them given the quality of the writing, direction, and production, but they are total geek fests. And non-geeks are unaware of the many layers in their films.
You need to be a particular type of geek, too. As a melomaniac, I can easily appreciate a comedy like ‘High Fidelity‘, which pokes fun at music geeks. As a film buff, I understand most of the references in a gentle spoof like ‘For Your Consideration‘. But I’m sure others don’t get it, much like I don’t quite grasp what’s below the surface in the Wright/Pegg/Frost movies.
It’s such that my enthusiasm isn’t such that I will watch them frequently enough to see all the parallels between their three pictures together, their so-called Cornetto trilogy (named after the ice cream desserts that they eat in each film, as well as their respective colour schemes). My understanding is they all tie together in certain ways, which is very cool for die-hard fans.
Sadly, I’m not one of them. I do enjoy their films, though, and plan on watching each of them many times over the years (I should probably make a point of watching all three more or less successively so as to notice the similarities; maybe that will the breakthrough for me). Still, there were a few elements that stood out for me when I watched ‘Hot Fuzz’, that I found more memorable.
- It’s a stylistically appealing film. Wright certainly has a flair for making films exciting – without going nuts like Michael Bay does. It’s just a matter of judicious editing techniques and creativity.
- The soundtrack is very loud and dynamic. This is a double-edged sword, though, as I had to drop the volume a couple of notches in case it bothered the neighbours.
- There are some nice cameos along the way. In particular, I quite enjoyed seeing Marty Friedman as Nicholas Angel’s superior. He was smug and plain fun.
- Timothy Dalton was brilliant, as Simon Skinner, the arrogant, cheerful, but subtly menacing superstore owner. It’s not 007, but he’s terrific anyway. Interestingly enough, James Bond music composer David Arnold ended up doing the score for this film.
- The ending felt like a western shootout, what with the horse and the way that it was constructed, with all the villains popping out of store fronts and windows. Except better – if only because it wasn’t a western.
- I loved that the motives were hilariously meaningless; people were killed off for really stupid reasons. It was the only real surprise in the movie, because it didn’t follow the genre clichés. That was a very nice touch indeed.
But there were a few things that bugged me along the way, countering the enjoyment I derived from those elements:
- I had a hard time buying that Angel’s bosses were going to transfer him, even if it’s somewhat conceivable that he’s making them look bad. At least he would have had some support, some people would respect him. Alas, quite the reverse. I guess, being a comedy,it had to happen this way.
- I wasn’t so keen on the name Nicholas Angel. Who decided “Angel” was a good idea? Was it because Wright and Pegg found that this made sense in the genre? It’s quite possible, much like Star Wars villains always have ridiculous names like (in)Sidious or Grievous.
- Although I love the character, I could barely buy into Simon Pegg as a fit, tough-as-nails cop. Even when he ran, his pecks flapped, for god’s sake! He plays the part superbly, however: it might be his best performance of all the ones I’ve seen thus far; he was utterly convincing. He has the acting chop, but the physique? Not sure. Still, he did an extremely convincing chase with the shoplifter – but much of that might be due to editing and Wright’s directorial ability.
If not for these factors, I might have enjoyed ‘Hot Fuzz’ a tad more. It’s a terrific idea, it was well-researched and conceived, and everyone involved were obviously out to make the best possible film. And they succeeded on most counts. It’s probably even my favourite of the ‘Cornetto trilogy’ for its overall evenness. But it doesn’t top Wright’s later effort, ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World‘.
Now THAT’s bad ass!
“Well, I wouldn’t argue that it wasn’t a no-holds-barred, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride. But there is no way you can perpetrate that amount of carnage and mayhem and not incur a considerable amount of paperwork.”
Date of viewing: March 15, 2014