Nothing brings an artfully composed work of art down faster than the affliction of taking itself too seriously. Fortunately for film-goers everywhere, “Hot Fuzz” is in no danger of falling prey to that particular problem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This new effort from the team behind the immensely successful zombie satire “Shaun of the Dead,” is essentially a love letter from the film’s cast and crew to the annals of the big budget buddy cop drama – albeit a love letter with enough blood, guts and gore to please even the most avid action fan.
The film focuses on the adventures of super cop Sergeant Nicholas Angel – played to pursed-lip perfection by the film’s co-writer Simon Pegg. When the London Police Force bigwigs decide that Angel’s astronomically high arrest-record is making them look bad, they transfer him to the small Stepford-esque country town of Sandford, whose claim to fame is its unbelievably low crime rate and its long-standing possession of the title of Village of the Year. Angel is paired with cop movie buff and bumbling cop himself, Danny Butterman(Nick Frost).
Pretty soon people start to die in a series of gruesome and grisly accidents – accidents which rank as some of the funniest and most creative ways with which people have been disposed of in recent film history. From death by bacon to plenty of innovative impalements, “Hot Fuzz” proves that Simon Pegg and co-writer and director Edgar Wright are masters at the art of making up masterful ways to murder their characters. Meanwhile, Nick and Danny must team up to solve the crime spree and learn a valuable lesson about friendship and the purely platonic love between heterosexual men in the meantime.
Overall, the film is a joyous romp through a pastiche of fabulously cheesy horror movie clichŽs, homages to the classic “Point Break”-esque cop drama and references to everything from “Shaun of the Dead” to “Clerks.” Effortlessly combining the best and most beloved conventions of the genre movie with innovative, quick cutting and CGI effects, “Hot Fuzz” is a witty ode to its generic roots done with quite a bit more sleek cinematic sophistication than the average movie about two guys who bond over a shared love of shooting people as a means to making things right in the world.
When the film isn’t subversively using excellent technique to execute what would otherwise be tired cop-movie clichŽs in a whole new way, it’s satisfying the secret desires of shoot-em-up fans everywhere by making sure that the plot is such that by the end of it, nobody is safe from the butt of Angel’s gun and the bottom of his boot. Elderly farmers’ wives get their noses broken, kindly church ladies engage in vicious gun battles in the middle of the town square and the priest gets it in ways most filmmakers would be afraid to even touch. The violence knows no bounds, and it’s executed with such panache that every little shot elicits that rush that true action movie aficionados can only get when the music speeds up and the automatics start firing. Sure, the movie starts off a little slow – with an emphasis on the decidedly British aesthetic of the ploddingly paced focus on the ins and outs of everyday life – and the plot is fairly predictable, but it’s such a fun and funny ride throughout that it almost doesn’t matter.
As with “Shaun of the Dead,” the comedy duo of Pegg and Frost plays like a modern day Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle, respectively. Pegg’s tightly-wound perfectionist is brilliantly balanced by the physical comedy of Frost’s bumbling, big-bellied boyishness, and the chemistry and connection between them manages to be both poignant and powerful – no small feat given the cartoonish nature of much of the film’s plot. Other standouts include Timothy Dalton as the archetypal, sinister, mustache-twirling grocery store owner and town elder Mr. Skinner, Jim Broadbent as the all-too-amicable Police Inspector Frank Butterman and Billy Nighy as the magisterial Metropolitan Chief Inspector Kenneth.
Overall, “Hot Fuzz” is absolutely one of the best films to grace theater screens so far this year. It’s hilariously funny, engrossingly action-packed – especially in the second half of the film – and incredibly well done. Every element, from the straight-faced sincerity of the actors to the precise way in which the blood splatters, is spot-on in terms of eliciting excitement and emotion from the audience, and it is truly a treat to watch – particularly for the segment of the population with an affinity for action movies. If guns, gore, laughter and the love between avowedly straight men is your cup of tea, go see this British import immediately.