Hot Fuzz [retro review]

“I’m a slasher… of prices!”

The Scoop: 12 A 2007, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jim Broadbent.

Tagline: Big Cops. Small Town. Moderate Violence.

Summary Capsule: Good cop gets sent to the country, buddy-related hijinks ensue.

Lissa’s Rating: A movie’s worth of “I know you from where?”s.

Lissa’s Review: After a bit of nagging and pleas and perhaps a little bribery, Duckie finally convinced me to watch Hot Fuzz. Actually, the truth is he caught me in the realization that we haven’t watched a movie for quite a while and I really need to review something for MRFH, so when he suggested it, I agreed just so I could write the review. This tends to be dangerous, because usually when I agree to something like this I end up not really liking the movie much. And sometimes it can be annoying, because I end up reviewing a movie that I wasn’t that into to a group of people that are far more into it than me.

Yeah, as you can guess, this one’s going to be kind of lukewarm.

Hot Fuzz is a British comedy made by the same people that made Shaun of the Dead, which I still haven’t seen despite a certain someone’s incessant nagging. (Well, maybe not incessant, per se.) It’s a parody of cop and action movies, where the brilliant and ethical detective (Nick Angel, played by Simon Pegg) is sent to the country because… well, in this case it’s because he’s too good, and he makes the rest of the department look bad. Which is probably a more realistic reason than the ones normally given in cop movies, I must admit. While in the small town of Sandford, he ends up in the middle of a huge murder case, where of course no one will believe him when he says the deaths are murders. He also finds himself a new best friend in the form of Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), who’s a bit of a lummox. Okay, a lot of a lummox. But he’s funny.

Parodies can be either really funny or really stupid, depending on the skill of those involved and the sense of humor of those watching. In this case, I guess it falls into funny, as long as you like British humor. Hot Fuzz is very British, with very dry humor, and if you prefer the more obvious or Jim Carrey, it’s probably not up your alley. The parody aspect is suitably subtle and funny, and not over-the-top until the very end, when the over-the-top elements just fit right.

The thing about Hot Fuzz is that it’s a good movie, but I didn’t overly enjoy it. Really. I could see where people would think it was funny and well done, but the truth is I just don’t generally enjoy police movies. They aren’t like horror, where I can’t stand them, or torture porn, where I just don’t understand why anyone would ever want to watch it. (Sorry, but I really don’t.) I can understand perfectly well why people like police movies, and why shows like CSI or Law and Order have such a huge following. But I’m just not that into them. They kind of leave me cold and indifferent, like video games or football. I get it, but I just don’t get into it. These are times when I’m glad I didn’t watch the movie alone, because I can tell you that Duckie really did enjoy it, and therefore it’s best to listen to him if you think you might like this one.

I can say there were things I enjoyed. I thought that Nick Frost and Simon Pegg were very funny together, and they had the sort of chemistry that makes me wonder how much of their dialogue is scripted and how much comes from them just riffing off each other. I liked the overall mystery, and the resolution was hysterical. And I was amused at the more obvious parody elements (I honestly think I missed the more subtle send-ups due to lack of familiarity with the source material). There was a whole host of British actors I recognized from various movies and spent the entire time trying to figure out where I knew them from, which is always a fun game. And the dialogue was pretty witty without being completely contrived.

Like I said, this is a far better movie than I am making it sound. I really shouldn’t be reviewing this, because I know it deserves better than what I’m giving it. But we’ve been watching a lot of TV shows on DVD, and I really need to get a review in, so there. Don’t you just love deadlines?

Justin’s Rating: Bullet Blastin’ Bobbies

Justin’s Review: Good phrases, quotes and word choices can go a long way in making a film immortal. For my wife and I, we knew we would never quite forget Hot Fuzz for the simple fact that we spent most part of the rest of the day answering questions with “Yarp!” or “Narp!” For this bounty of two funny words, we are in debt to the makers of this movie, and will be offering them second-fruits from our spring crops.

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – the driving force behind Spaced and Shaun of the Dead – return for another go at a wacky British take on movie parodies. Instead of romance and zombies, Hot Fuzz whisks us away to the lead-strewn streets of hot-tempered police officers and their undeniable vendettas. It’s a well-known fact that all police officers are issued a blank pass to go on one (but only one) revenge spree in their life, without regard to property or civilian damage, as long as its in the name of truth, justice and a rollicking good time. There’s a movie in there, somewhere. Let’s go watch it.

Due to his absurdly high (and therefore embarrassing) arrest rate, top cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is forcibly relocated from London to a small hamlet in England where nothing bad ever happens. As Angel descends into this personal Hell (clever, ain’t I?), he must cope with a citizenry concerned about “living statues”, a partner (Frost) who watches one too many cop action movies for his own good, and an over-abundance of dessert items floating around the police station. His consistent nosing around seems to turn up trouble where there isn’t any – but perhaps something diabolical is actually waiting for the right cop to uncover.

A warning, if I may, and a heedance. While Hot Fuzz is billed as an action movie parody, it’s far from the slapsticky gag-for-gag jokefest of films such as Naked Gun or Loaded Weapon 1. It’s (naturally) far more similar to Shaun of the Dead’s style of lazily drifting from a straight-out parody to playing it straight, giving time for characters to develop and scenes to play out. In one minute, Hot Fuzz could almost lull you to sleep with non-action; in another, a spectacularly gory scene might unravel; and in yet another, you could be laughing your head off at the bizarre freak show that unfolds. I like both these movies quite a lot, but I’d be a bald-faced liar if I said they were overwhelmingly funny. Taken as a whole, sure, they have a lot of laughs, but Hot Fuzz saves most of its big comedic moments for the last 45 minutes or so, leaving a chunk of film that strongly relies on whether or not you find quirky British mannerisms a hoot.

No matter what, this is a terrific ride. Hot Fuzz precariously balances between mocking and admiring the action cop genre that it builds off of, and makes more than a few stinging blows at the clichés we’ve long gotten used to. Pegg and Frost are a masterful comedic duo, and aren’t afraid to throw little moments that seem straight out of left field just for the enjoyment of the ten or so people who might get the joke. It’s loud, there are a thousand shots of guns being primed, loaded, pumped and cranked, and the last part is so utterly over-the-top odd that I couldn’t stop grinning. “A” for “adored the effort.”

Realistically, how many bullets do you expect to fire while jumping through the air?

Intermission!

  • The combination for the lock of the Evidence Room is 999, the same as the telephone number of the police (and other emergency services) in Britain.
  • The car stereo plays Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” (Actually, the music was pretty good overall.)
  • The fruit machine appearing in the village pub is the same “Ooh Ah Dracula” fruit machine that appeared in The Winchester in Shaun of the Dead.
  • Apple Mac startup!
  • Can you spot Peter Jackson and Cate Blanchett? (I didn’t. Look on IMDb for the answer!)
  • No love interest! Amusingly, IMDb notes that there WAS a love interest, but she was cut. And her dialogue was given to Danny, often without any changes. This explains why I was wondering if they were playing with homoerotic tensions or not.
  • Sandford, the “fictional” setting for the film, is the name of the town used as the setting for all police training role plays.
  • The judges for the Best Kept Village competition near the end of the film are played by Peter Wild and the mothers of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.
  • Whilst researching police for the film, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg discovered that a disproportionate amount of Police Officers were named either Nick or Andy which led to the character names of Nicholas Angel and the two Andys. The Angel part of Nicholas Angel was named after Hot Fuzz’s music director and the joke where the local paper mis-spelled Angel’s name as “Angle” was based on several incidences where this has happened to Nick Angel.
  • Sampson the dog (who played Saxon the dog) was not allowed to become a real police dog as he was considered too friendly.
  • The fictional “Norris Avenue” is named after Chuck Norris.

Groovy Quotes

Nicholas Angel: Are there any questions?
Danny Butterman: Is it true that there’s a point on a man’s head where if you shoot it, it will blow up?

Danny Butterman: What do you think?
Nicholas Angel: 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.
Danny Butterman: That is nothing man, this is about to go off!

Reverend Philip Shooter: Oh, you’re an agnostic, then?
Dr. Robin Hatcher: I think I’ve got a cream for that!

Danny Butterman: ‘Cause we sat through three hours of so-called acting last night, and the kiss was the only convincing moment in it.

Nicholas Angel: Mr. Porter, what’s your wine selection?
Roy Porter: Oh, we’ve got red… and, er… white?

Danny Butterman: By the power of Greyskull!

Danny Butterman: Point Break or Bad Boys II?
Nicholas Angel: Which one do you think I’ll prefer?
Danny Butterman: No, I mean which one do you wanna watch first?

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Louise does Footloose (2011) « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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