Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine
Release Date: April 20th, 2007
Runtime: 2 hrs. 1 min.
MPAA Rating: R
The second installment in the Wright/Pegg/Frost trilogy (or should it rather be called an un-trilogy?), Hot Fuzz moves us away from the zombie killing ways of Shaun and his best friend Ed in Shaun of the Dead (see my review here), and introduces us to PC Nicholas Angel [Simon Pegg], London’s top cop. Unfortunately, he’s a little bit too good (the Chief Inspector [Bill Nighy] tells him he’s “rather been letting down the side”), and therefore gets reassigned to the quiet country town of Sandford, where almost nothing ever happens, let alone crime. Appearances are not, however, what they seem, and Angel begins to smell something foul – and it’s not just the town’s missing swan.
When Angel arrives in town, his very first night finds him busy, emptying the local of underage drinkers, and taking in one drunk who nearly kills him when he tries to drive home. The next day he’s surprised to see the drunk missing from his cell, when another officer joins him, wondering at the absence. Of course, the officer is the drunk, and Angel gets introduced to PC Danny Butterman [Nick Frost], the local Inspector [Jim Broadbent]’s son. The Inspector takes Angel aside, and explains that things are done differently in Sandford, that it’s all about “The greater good.”
If that term sounds a little sinister, it’s with good reason, as it turns out that turning a blind-eye to a few underage drinkers is just the start. After being forced to watch a very amateurish performance of Romeo and Juliet, Angel and Butterman must attend the accident scene where the two leads, driving home after the show, were accidentally decapitated by a low-lying billboard. Angel isn’t convinced it was an accident, and as more bodies begin to show up, he’s certain of it: something dark dwells just below the surface in this idyllic little town. And the interesting link between the “accidents”? They all seem to make the town just a little bit nicer. For the greater good indeed.
The movie spoofs buddy cop films of the 1990s, focusing specifically on Bad Boys and Point Break, but including homages to everything in the genre. There are the catchphrases – “This s— just got real” – and the cheesy scenes – a gun emptied into the air in frustration – and the usual serious cop/goofball teamwork we’ve seen dozens of times, probably best exemplified by Danny Glover’s by-the-book Murtaugh teamed with Mel Gibson’s crazy and unorthodox Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series. While cop buddy spoofs have been done before (see especially Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker’s Rush Hour series), none does so quite so overtly or with as much self-awareness as do the boys in Hot Fuzz. Nor, frankly, so well.
The cast is excellent from top to bottom, with industry veterans such as Edward Woodward [Tom Weaver, but better known to American audiences as The Equalizer] and Timothy Dalton [Simon Skinner], joined by relative newcomers and excellent actors in their own right such as Martin Freeman [Met Sergeant] and Paddy Considine [DS Andy Wainwright] – both of whom also appear as different characters in the third installment of the trilogy (Freeman also had a very small role in Shaun of the Dead). Cate Blanchett even has a small cameo (as Janine, Angel’s neglected girlfriend). Character names hint at either occupations (Messenger writes for the paper, the Porters run a pub), or are descriptive of traits (Blower is a bad actor, Merchant is a businessman), meaning that each of the characters essentially acts as a trope and archetype, a further level of play both in the script and in the movie, as characters play to type for the most part, only to change things up in the third act.
The character who must change the most is, of course, PC Angel himself, who may have to act in decidedly un-angel like ways if he is to successfully uncover all of Sandford’s secrets. Thankfully, he has movie addict and aficionado Butterman on hand to teach him the ways of the buddy-cup genre. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, prepare for an enjoyable take on cop movies that will give you a fresh look at the theme; if you have, why not watch it again? You won’t be disappointed.
Steve’s Grade: A
A buddy-cop comedy that hits every beat, walking the fine line between poking fun at and honoring the genre it spoofs. The second of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, the Blue installment is, but only be the barest of margins, the best of the three.