Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hot Fuzz

Originally Written  at Epinions.com on 4/21/07 with minor edits.

In 2004, British director Edgar Wright and his co-screenwriter Simon Pegg scored a massive cult hit with a zombie movie spoof Shaun of the Dead. The film, that also starred their Spaced co-stars Nick Frost and Jessica Stevenson, was a spoof and homage to the zombie films of George Romero that brought laughs and new energy to the genre. The film's cult success grew as fans anticipated for the next Wright/Pegg project. In 2007, the duo along with Frost re-teamed to create another spoof, the buddy cop movies for the film Hot Fuzz.

Directed by Edgar Wright and co-written with Simon Pegg, Hot Fuzz is about a cop who gets transferred to a quiet British town where his new partner is the chief's inept son. Learning of a crime plot going on in the quiet little town, the two action-film loving cops decide to take on the crime itself with style. An homage yet satire of every cop film and its cliches, Hot Fuzz revels in its humor and love of action with Pegg and Nick Frost playing the lead characters. Also starring Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Anne Reid, Bill Nighy, Timothy Dalton, Billie Whitelaw, along with cameos from Steve Coogan, Martin Freeman, Stephen Merchant, and two other cameos by big stars (not going to tell ya). Hot Fuzz is a funny, satirical action-comedy that pays homage and laughs to the American action film genre.

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a police officer in London. So good, so dedicated, that he makes everyone in the police force look bad. Really bad. Angel's dedication is so powerful that his superiors (Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy) decide to transfer him to a sleepy village in the North of England called Sandford. Angel is forced to move as his ex-girlfriend (Ecat Chettblan) has moved on with a new boyfriend. Arriving into Sandford, his new superior Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) introduces him to the local force that includes Angel's new partner and Butterman's son Danny (Nick Frost). The town hasn't had a recorded murder for twenty years as Angel finds himself out of place with the town. Even by his local forces that included detectives Andy Wainwright (Paddy Considine) and Andy Cartwright (Rafe Spall), officers Doris Thatcher (Olivia Colman) the aging Bob Walker (Karl Johnson) and Tony Fisher (Kevin Eldon).

Angel also has gotten the attention of local supermarket owner Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), who has been saying mysterious things, while being head of the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance along with Joyce Cooper (Billie Whitelaw), Dr. Robin Hatcher (Stuart Wilson), Reverend Phillip Shooter, (Paul Freeman) and Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward) who surveys everything in the town. Angel also meets local florist Leslie Tiller (Anne Reid), journalist Tim Messenger (Adam Buxton), and local millionaire George Merchant (Ron Cook). Angel finds himself getting into weird situations including trying to get a swan for its owner (Stephen Merchant) as he wonder where is the crime. Then after stopping a couple (David Threlfall & Lucy Punch) for speeding, he learns that Inspector Butterman wants Angel and Danny to go see them at their play. Then, a murder has occurred but has been covered up as an accident. Angel doesn’t believe it was an accident though the rest of the police staff laugh it off.

Feeling no respect for his work, only Danny seems to become his friend despite his lack of experience. Yet, Danny’s love for American action films including Point Break and Bad Boys II gives Angel something to take a break off. Then when another murder occurred at George Merchant's home, Angel becomes suspicious. Even more when more are murder including one witnessed by Angel, Angel wants to know what goes on. He suspects Skinner for the killings but doesn't get any proof. With Danny being the only help he has, he doesn't get any respect from anyone including Inspector Butterman who believes it's all a bunch of accidents. Angel continues his investigations where after an attack by one of Skinner's henchmen. He then learns not only that Skinner is involved but other people as well including those from the N.W.A. and a surprise member. There, Angel, Danny, and the rest of the force decide to get the law into order and with a bang.

When people see action films, they don't expect anything serious but blow-them-up and lots of stunts. Yet, they can get too serious and end up becoming parody. In the case of this film, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg doesn't exactly take a p*ss on the American action genre. They glorify them while making fun of every cliche that's been seen in those films and have fun with them. The film's plot is easy to follow though a bit slow at times to move the story. It's only because the character of Angel is merely a satire of the cops seen on action films who takes himself too seriously at times and not be loose at the same time. Then when he is influenced by the action films Danny shows him, he becomes a different animal.

Edgar Wright clearly goes for style with this film rather than substance. Yet, it all works to convey the humor of what he's trying to do. He’s taking a p*ss at every cliche, every action film shot, every buddy cop movie. Yet, it's all in good fun. Even getting the likes of respected, British actors like Billie Whitelaw, Anne Reid, Jim Broadbent, Stuart Wilson, Ron Cook, and Edward Woodward to do something that isn't expected of them. It's because he knows that these actors are often seen in British dramas or Shakespeare but here, he lets them have guns, shoot people, and whatever. All in good fun. Plus, there's moments of gore that's also a bit extreme for the American action fan but that's the way the British does it. In some respects, Wright knows what he's doing and he's giving the audience something to have fun with while paying some respect to action directors and such.

Cinematographer Jess Hall does excellent work with the stylish, slow-mo camera work that's often done in action films while bringing a colorful look the British village. Editor Chris Dickens even goes for style with the kind of rapid-cutting that's seen in a lot of action films that are hyper-kinetic. There at least, the editing is all in good fun and plays to that action film style. Production designer Marcus Rowland and Liz Griffiths add a nice look to the film’s countryside while costume designer Annie Hardinge brings a nice look to the British cop clothes. Makeup artist Candice Banks does great work in playing with the gore as well as those cool mustaches Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall wear. Sound designer Craig Butters and sound editor Julian Slater play off to the film's action style in its sound while visual effects supervisor Richard Briscoe does some great special effects for some of the film's action scenes. Composer David Arnold also plays off to the genre with a stylish, orchestral score. The film's soundtrack also has kick with music by Adam Ant, XTC, Supergrass, the Kinks, Sweet, Arthur Brown, and Jon Spencer to add energy to the film.

The film's cast couldn't have been inspiring. The cameos from Steve Coogan, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Stephen Merchant, and an Academy Award-winning director (ain't telling you), along with an Academy Award-winning actress (still ain't telling you) are funny to watch. The performances from veteran actors like Stuart Wilson, Anne Reid, Ron Cook, Edward Woodward, Billie Whitelaw, and Paul Freeman are fun to watch as they engage themselves in gore and have fun shootouts without taking themselves too seriously. Other small performances from Tim Barlow as Skinner's henchmen, Alice Low as Skinner's secretary, David Threlfall, Lucy Punch, and Adam Buxton are excellent. Fellow cops Olivia Colman, Karl Johnson, and Kevin Eldon are given some great funny moments as well as some great action scenes. Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall are hilarious as the mustache Andys who play the detective who love to make fun of Angel and his city-ways.

Jim Broadbent is wonderfully funny as the easy-going yet shady Inspector Butterman who doesn't want to believe anything that's wrong while trying to make Angel fit in. Broadbent is given great moments in both the action scenes and in the funny stuff where's given a lot to do and have fun at the same time. Playing against the James Bond role he's known for, Timothy Dalton is great as another shady individual as the villainous Skinner who is trying to do anything but to cover up his plans. Dalton is great while getting to do things he wouldn't have done as Bond, where he looks like he's having fun.

Nick Frost is really the funniest person on film. His character doesn't take things seriously and is like a kid when it comes to action movies and idolize them. He's like the cop that wants to be the superbad cop he idolizes in the cop movies. Frost brings a lot of fun to the role and makes himself relatable to audiences. Simon Pegg is also great as the straight man of the film who takes himself too seriously when doing things as Pegg really shows more of a dramatic side. When his character decides to go badass, he really sells it with a lot wit and humor. The chemistry of Frost and Pegg are just a joy to watch as they make themselves one hell of a comedy duo.

While not as funny as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz is still a hilarious, witty action-comedy from the duo of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. With great comedy assistance from Nick Frost and a great cast of respected British actors, it's a film that gives the audience what they want. Loads of laughs and lots of violence, it's just a film that action fans can enjoy without taking it too seriously. In some ways, the British just know how to do the genre a bit better without being too serious while adding more gore to the festivity. In the end, for a film that brings laughs and a great experience to cheer, Hot Fuzz is the film to see.

© thevoid99 2010

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