Hot Fuzz

Year 2007

Simon Pegg as  Nicholas Angel
Nick Frost as PC Danny Butterman
Jim Broadbent as Inspector Frank Butterman  
Timothy Dalton   as Simon Skinner
Director - Edgar Wright
Screenwriters - Edgar Wright
  - Simon Pegg

Perhaps you've heard of this one. If you have, then you've also heard, "It's done by the same guys who did Shaun of the Dead," as if that indicates a champion pedigree. As near as I can tell, I'm about the only person who didn't like Shaun of the Dead. Even people who never watched Shaun of the Dead like Shaun of the Dead.

Shaun of the Dead did such a good job imitating zombie films that it forgot that it was supposed to be a parody. As a comedy, Shaun of the Dead had a few funny scenes, maybe as many as a handful. But for the most part, I spent my movie watching time waiting for it to hit its stride and be a funny zombie movie. It never managed to move above a staggering walk.

This is essentially what's wrong with Hot Fuzz as well. It tries so hard to be a cop buddy film that it misses its mark as a comedy. It also misses its mark as a cop buddy film.

Let's check the DVD cover and find out who raved about the film. There's an "Outrageous!" from US Weekly. That tells me nothing. "Outrageous" as in, "His serial killing ramapage was outrageous!" Or, "Outrageous!" as in "His behavior on the playing field was outrageous!" Why should US Weekly be outraged after viewing this film? And who the heck is US Weekly? Couldn't they have found a "Daily" review spouting outrage?

Then there's "Hysterical!" from Maxim. I get the feeling that I should have heard of Maxim. Isn't that the name of a cologne, uh, "body wash"? If not, it should be. So, this film, according to Maxim, drives women insane.

(Trivia time! "Hysteria" comes from the same root as the word "hysterectomy". It was coined because men in the Victorian age believed that all women's mood swings were womb related. Sexist? Yes. Trivializing? Yes. Accurate for describing anything other than the shrieking of a banshee? No.)

Not exactly sterling recommendations. Was this the best packaging they could use? Still, the movie was done by the same guys who did Shaun of the Dead, dag nabbit!

So, I watched it. I did watch it, too. I didn't put it in and putter around while it served as background noise.

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the perfect cop. Arrest record, community interaction, personal hygiene, etc. all exceed the level of his peers. In fact, he has no peer. So, it's inevitable that he has to go since no one likes a wise guy.

The town he's assigned to as part of his promotion is experiencing a string of unusual deaths that might be termed accidental. Of course they aren't, so Nick Angel jumps in and, after a fashion, sets everything right.

There are some mildly amusing bits at the beginning of the movie. Then, things stall. Forturnately, Police Constable Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) shows up to add a little life to the party. It's not that the movie is unfunny, it's just not a comedy.

Here's an example. Angel, being the cops' cop, believes in political correctness because someone told him to. "Traffic accidents" are supposed to be called "collisions" because an accident implies that no one was at fault. I've heard that phrase before in Drivers Ed in the seventies so it's nothing new. But it is perfect fodder for an over the top comparison or a dig. Hot Fuzz whiffs on the slow pitch and treats the opportunity as a school lesson rather than a lead in to a punch line.

Two things elevate this movie into the not shabby range. One is the attention to detail. I recommend watching the movie once and then watching it again with the "Fuzz-O-Meter" turned on. It reveals trivia about unseen props, like the titles of the books being read just below camera range. These may not be things that directly add to the movie, but they are items that the director added to make every scene authentic. Every actor believes in his character and the audience benefits from a sense of credibility.

And the allusions abound! Do you remember the names of the cops in Lethal Weapon? I mean their first names. If you do, you'll catch the homage to that movie when the names of newborn twins are announced.

What do you make of a roadway turnoff named "Heston <something or other>"? It's a reference to Charlton Heston. Who knew? The movie is rife with references that you'd never figure out in a thousand years without the Fuzz-O-Meter turned on.

The second thing that's excellent about the movie is the plot twist. Everything is dry and nearly forced until that point. In fact, I thought that the movie was about finished when I checked the time left and found that there was nearly an hour to go.

I won't give away the twist other than to say I saw it used once before on "The X-Files". But immediately after this revelation, the movie picked up the pace and hit its stride.

In the end, I liked the movie and I'd recommend it with reservations. If you liked Shaun of the Dead then you'll probably like Hot Fuzz since it was written by the same guys. (Did you get that yet?) It has more originality than the previous outing.

Oh, and Timothy Dalton is wonderfully campy as the owner of a supermarket. I'm thinking about checking out his James Bond movies just based on his acting in Hot Fuzz. Simon Pegg does a great (unintentional) Russell Crowe impersonation in the second half of the movie.

Not much swearing or blasphemy. No nudity. No romance either unless you think that the relationship between Angel and Butterman was gay. (I expected them to start kissing at any time.) That sensitive guy thing means that there's chick flick potential here. Every woman I've ever met harbors a secret desire to understand male gay behavior. Why? I dunno. (Men don't want to understand female gay behavior, although most want to watch. Why? I dunno. It makes me feel inadequate.)

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