“Shit just got real!”
Rated R. Out on DVD. Directed by Edgar Wright. Written by Wright & Simon Pegg. Starring Pegg, Nick Frost and Timothy Dalton.
One of the strong suits of 2004’s Shaun of the Dead was how well it satirized zombie movies while actually making a pretty decent zombie movie. Writer/Director Edgar Wright and Writer/Star Simon Pegg took a pretty recognizable genre and infused it with some good comic moments in showing that in order to make a truly effective parody, you need to understand and be able to duplicate what you’re parodying. Hot Fuzz, Wright & Pegg’s follow-up take on big-budget cop movies has a similar sensibility and style, tweaking familiar conventions to find humor while still having some pretty legit action scenes.
Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a tough, no-nonsense London cop with a long string of commendations and an outstanding arrest record. Unfortunately, because of his devotion to his job, his relationship (with an uncredited Cate Blanchett) has fallen apart, leaving him with only a Japanese Peace Lily as a companion. Even more unfortunate for Angel is that his superiors have decided that his presence in London is making them look bad, so they get rid of him by promoting him to Sergeant and sending him to a post in the small countryside village of Sandford, a multiple winner of “Village of the Year.” There, he quickly alienates the townspeople and fellow officers with the exception of Danny (Nick Frost, also from Shaun of the Dead), who admires him and whose love of cheesy cop movies like Point Break and Bad Boys II offers a contrast to the straight-laced Angel.
Pegg and Frost are both great, with Pegg fairly convincing when his part calls to be more serious while Frost makes a lovable sidekick. Timothy Dalton, as a sinister town leader is well-cast and shows off his comic ability. Wright’s direction proves that he could have made a competent straightforward action movie, with the requisite quick cuts and sound effects. The writing is fairly clever, and I particularly enjoyed the first hour or so of the movie, where the laughs the jabs at cop movie conventions were more subtle.
The major problem I had with the film in that the last 30 minutes go a little too over-the-top to the point of ridiculousness. I understand that most cop buddy movies go in that direction and that is what they were trying to emulate, but there were definitely points where it was just too silly. Of course, I did enjoy the homages to Point Break and Bad Boys II and the final fight scene was pretty amusing. Plus, any movie that uses The Kinks’ The Village Green Preservation Society scores bonus points for me.
Overall, Hot Fuzz is a mostly fun, entertaining movie and a worthy (though inferior) follow-up to Shaun of the Dead. It doesn’t aspire to be anything more than the films of the genre it’s poking fun at, and like those films, it’s not too memorable.