There are few films in my life where I have said to myself “I’ve been a fool for skipping over this 1 for so many years!”, and unfortunately Hot Fuzz is 1 of them. Seriously, why did I wait so long to watch this? I’ll tell you why – because while Shaun Of The Dead is an excellent movie, I didn’t find it as funny as most others did, and that’s even with Dylan Moran as part of the main cast. Perhaps I needed to be in a certain mood for it. Or perhaps it’s because I haven’t watched enough George R. Romero zombie movies to get all of the jokes. But 1 thing I will say, it was different with Hot Fuzz.
Set in modern day England (2007 in this case), Hot Fuzz is the 2nd in director Edgar Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy”, why this name? Because a Cornetto Ice Cream appears in each film, and apparently it’s a decent hangover cure. It centres primarily around a policeman named Nicholas “Nick” Angel (played by Simon Pegg), a London Police Constable who is so good at being a cop that he’s like Judge Dredd in a room full of Chief Wiggums. One day, he is promoted to Sergeant, and ends up being transferred to a small, sleepy village called Sandford in Gloucestershire (Because in London he makes the rest of the force look bad). It ends up being a severe shock to him, as everybody knows each other (and his name), and crime appears to be no more than graffiti, shoplifting and loitering. The police force (sorry, service), led by Inspector Frank Butterman (played by Jim Broadbent), comes across as being a little too laid back. Much more so than the Minneapolis, Minnesota police in Fargo (only at least they were actually doing their job). And to go along with this, Nick ends up being partnered with Frank Butterman’s son Danny (played by Nick Frost, aka Mr Sloane), a lazy cop who wants his job to be similar to action movies. Soon after arriving, a series of murders caused by someone dressed as a Nazgul start to take place. But the Police all brush them off as accidents. Leading to Nick becoming a Jim Gordon figure in the story.
If you’re British, or like British comedy, this film might come across as a bit of a “who’s who”. Martin Freeman (Dr Watson in Sherlock), Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge) and Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean) all appear as London policemen of different ranks. Olivia Colman (Mr Sloane’s wife), Bill Bailey (Black Books) and Kevin Eldon (Big Train) all appear as police officers in Sanford. Paddy Considine (Director of Tyrannosaur) and Rafe Spall (Yann Martel in The Life Of Pi) play spoofs of moustached detectives from the ’70s/’80s. And the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA) includes Timothy Dalton (James Bond and Penny Dreadful), Edward Woodward (Sergeant Neil Howie in 1973’s The Wicker Man), Billie Whitelaw (the evil nanny from The Omen), Rory McCann (Sandor “The Hound” Clegane in Game Of Thrones), and Patricia Franklin (the Carry On movies). There are even some amusing uncredited cameos, with the main 1 being Peter Jackson (Director of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit) appearing as the thief dressed as Santa Claus.
So lets break it down. The acting isn’t “world class” in the sense of trying to achieve a realistic, dramatic performance. Instead it is world class in the sense that this movie’s universe is 1 of Satire. It takes all of the little quirks you can possibly imagine happening in real life or through our diet of movies to shape our reality, and saturates them beyond comfort for our main character (Who is so serious about his job that he has no hobbies or interests). It has that over-the-top energy and slight surrealism that made Simpson’s episodes in the 1990s awesome. Every little thing that Nick takes seriously is somehow shot down by the rest of the Police Service (including the use of a notebook). It’s a little like an english version of Father Ted, only it’s the police service and not the Catholic Church, and this Ted archetype hasn’t let the environment bring him down to their level.
The characters in this film are awesome. Really over the top, quirky and full of strange yet very human behaviour. Far from boring, which is a very, very good thing…and really deadpan as well.
The story and writing is fantastic. A very funny script with excellent jokes and some of the best comedic violence I’ve seen in a live action film in years. The quick, sharp editing was so well done that old people who kick ass didn’t need stunt doubles (as far as we could see). The smallest and even most childish things are overblown and even full of emphasis. The action scenes where worthy of some of the classics (while once again placing emphasis on satire and humour), and I like how the characters either develop or have their various layers peeled back as it progresses…there’s even a well hidden Japanese Monster Movie reference (Or for the kid in me, a Power Rangers reference).
The violence is of a Family Guy nature. The amount of gore is as extreme as most horror movies, and yet it’s hilarious at the same time. Well placed CGI, but also well done special effects and make-up. The shock value is priceless.
The music all sets the scenes well, but nothing particularly stood out for me. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s still a very fitting soundtrack.
The film also likes to cover a variety of themes. Including ‘the seeking of truth behind the justice’, ‘perfection’, ‘conspiracy’, ‘big fish in a small pond’, ‘friendship’, ‘life balance’, “stepping back to see the big picture”, and ‘culture clash’. Nick Angel’s problem is that he doesn’t have any balance in his life. He eats, works and sleeps, and he isn’t even that social. Meaning there’s something that could be developed there. Danny Butterman definitely is a Chief Wiggum character, but despite his laziness and occasional drunkenness, he’s actually a good man. I won’t say much else, in case there are spoilers.
Would I recommend this film? Yes! It’s 1 of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, and I would actually place it up there with the likes of In Bruges, Naked Gun, Monty Python’s The Holy Grail, Young Frankenstein & The Wolf Of Wall Street. Different types of humour, but all are perfect within their own field, style and context. Well worth a look.
Overall rating: ***** out of 5