By Vic Holtreman
Short version: A fantastic send-up of loner cop action hero movies, with a final half hour that makes it the funniest thing I’ve seen this year.
Hot Fuzz is the funniest movie that most people haven’t seen this year. Sure, everyone is fawning over Superbad, which was OK, but if you’re an action movie fan, especially of stuff along the lines of Die Hard or Lethal Weapon you really need to see this movie.
Hot Fuzz was made by the same folks who showed us that zombies could be funny in Shaun of the Dead. It stars Simon Pegg (who co-wrote the script) and Nick Frost. They were the same on-screen team in Shaun. Here Pegg plays officer Nicholas Angel, a by the book, excels-at-everything-he-does officer who is so good that he’s making the rest of the London police force look bad in comparison (his arrest rate is 400% higher than the next highest). Due to this, his superiors decide to ship him off to the small village of Sandford, where the crime rate is ridiculously low and the citizens are proud of it’s designation as Village of the Year.
Angel brings his tough, no-nonsense view of the law to the sleepy little town, and the welcome he receives soon turns to annoyance and ridicule by the townsfolk. A series of murders are interpreted to be accidents by the existing police force, with the two town detectives continually accusing Angel of trying to see a crime where none exists. He is teamed up with the police chief’s son Danny Butterman – a portly and overeager fellow who fantasizes about the sort of police action seen in Point Break and Bad Boys II.
The first 3/4 of the film is funny in a low-key, subtle way. Much of the humor is derived by the counterpoint of the overly serious performance of Pegg as Angel in the face of the existing officers of Sandford who all play their roles for goofy laughs. Also, casting the diminuitive Pegg as a hard-boiled super-cop is funny in and of itself. But where the movie really breaks loose and gets it’s legs is in the final 30 minutes or so when it goes into full-on cop movie parody mode. There are more references to previous films here than I could count, but the vision of Nick Angel riding through town on horseback armed to the teeth was really funny, and his shoot-out with the local townsfolk left me in stitches.
One-time James Bond Timothy Dalton is also in the film and does a great job of portraying a smarmy businessman with the all the charm of a used car salesman.
Be warned that it’s rated R for a reason, with a few fairly gruesome scenes and plenty of foul language that instead of seeming superfluous is actually used to great effect.
I’m really shocked that this film didn’t do better here in the U.S. – perhaps people just don’t get the (sometimes) more subtle British humor and are more open to the more direct (and crass) humor in movies like Superbad. It’s a shame more folks didn’t get out and see this one, but now that it’s out on DVD I highly recommend you check it out.
Go check it out and let me know what you thought of it!