Village of the Darned
Title: Hot Fuzz
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute
MPAA Rating: R for violent content including some graphic images, and language
Freak Nation Rating:
With Hot Fuzz, director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost attempt to do for “bad boy” cop action movies what they did for zombie movies with Shaun of the Dead — which is to say: create a movie experience that is part homage, part parody, and thoroughly entertaining in its own right. With Hot Fuzz, they come very close indeed, but fall a little short of the high marks set with Shaun.
The basic plot begins with over-achiever police officer Nicholas Angel (Pegg) getting a forced transfer from London to the seemingly sleepy town of Sandford, where his by-the-book, regimented approach to police work is out of place and received with at least a small amount of ridicule. The only person who accepts him at all is the police captain’s son (Frost), a bumbling but good-natured fellow officer who dreams of the "high octane action" he has seen in American cop movies such as Bad Boys II and Point Break.
Two small-town British cops find more action than they expect in Edgar Wright’s new feature.
Meanwhile, it seems Sandford has a very high accidental death rate. This makes Angel, if no one else, suspicious.
And then things get wacky.
As in Shaun, there is a segment of the movie where what is going on is screamingly apparent to the audience, although not to the protagonists. In Hot Fuzz, we share this frustration with Angel, who seems to be the only person in the entire township with a single clue. However, we, like he, are shocked to discover that the clues add up to something very different than what initially seems obvious. There is a painful Wicker Man-type sequence, which mercifully ends unpredictably. After that, the movie gets fun, the true homage as parody (or parody as homage) begins to happen! It has everything a cop action movie should have — gun violence, explosions, car chases, collateral damage and the destruction of entire city blocks. Not to mention a tense hostage situation! And somehow in the midst of it all, Angel and his bumbling partner form a strong heterosexual manlove bond.
From a directorial standpoint, Wright seems to go lighter than he did in Shaun, though it could be that I don’t recognize the homage references as much as I did in Shaun. Wright does seem to get all the little devices of action films spot on and exaggerated, such as the sound effects every time the hero does anything — from paperwork to watering his beloved Peace Lily. The true joy was seeing Simon Pegg in a role so utterly different from the undirected slacker Shaun — Angel may not always have it all correct, but good lord is he a motivated go-getter! What is consistent with Shaun is the dynamic between Pegg and Frost — they are a comedic team in the classic sense, and work fabulously together regardless of the milieu. It was also a pleasure to see Bill Nighy in a small role, as well as Edward Woodward, whom I still remember fondly from his days as The Equalizer.
Overall, I enjoyed Hot Fuzz, though not quite as much as the hype. It has left me lamenting that there will be no From Dusk Till Shaun, and wondering what other genres this team will next decide to give the treatment.
Aldyth Beltane is a red-haired, glam rock sex magician from the future. She writes and DJs, though not as much as she'd like, shops for style and recreation, devours media with appetite and passion and prefers comics, science fiction television and various kinds of movies, though not always the ones you might expect. She has nightmares about zombies, collects plush elder deities and purple eyeshadow, rescues kitties, and has embraced her identity as crusader, quixotic or otherwise. Above all else, Aldyth still believes in a finer world.