STARRINGSimon Pegg - Sergeant Nicholas Angel
Nick Frost - PC Danny Butterman
Timothy Dalton - Simon Skinner
Bill Nighy - Metropolitan Chief Inspector Kenneth
Year - 2007
Score - 4 Howls Outta 4
It took me months to watch this, but dammit, I finally did! As a huge fan of the Wright/Pegg/Frost collaboration, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, I wanted to see HOT FUZZ very badly for a while now. After reading that the trio loved action films as much as zombie films, I knew I'd be in for a treat. But would HOT FUZZ be as good as SHAUN OF THE DEAD? Or are they just a one-trick-pony team?
Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) of London is the best police officer in the city. He's like Jackie Chan, Mel Gibson, and Bruce Willis all in one, kicking crime's ass and becoming extremely respected for it. Unfortunately, his squad feels inferior to him [due to his 400 percent arrest rate] and feel that he could cost them out of their jobs. So because he's too GOOD as a cop, Angel is transferred out of London and into the small police squad in the small town of Sanford. Angel is unhappy by the move.
He moves to Sanford, a quiet town that's very proud of their small crime rate, although they have a HUGE "accident" rate. This reputation has garnered them 12 years as the Best Village in the UK, and the citizens will do anything to keep it that way. After a rough start, Angel meets Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), a bumbling goofball who happens to be the Chief's son...and his new partner. While Angel is very serious about his job, Butterman is obsessed with being a film cop, admiring Keanu Reeves [as well as Martin Lawrence & Will Smith]. Nothing really happens in the town [except for a missing swan and some shoplifting] until a couple is murdered after a horrible rendition of Romeo & Juliet. The murder is deemed an "accident", until the deaths keep piling up. Angel preaches his theories on the murders, but the town will have nothing of it, believing Angel is just causing trouble that isn't necessary. Are these murders really "accidents", or is Angel right on the money with his cop instincts?
HOT FUZZ is on fire. What a great comedy this is. The film is very self-aware of its spoofing of action films and does it in an intelligent and witty manner that many other spoof comedies tend to miss the mark on [looking at you DATE MOVIE & EPIC MOVIE]. The references to POINT BREAK and BAD BOYS II aren't just used to make people laugh, but as a storytelling element that helps move the story of Angel and Butterman along. Being a fan of action films, I understood the love of living out the exciting lives of John McClane of DIE HARD or Martin Riggs of LETHAL WEAPON like Butterman does - especially if you live in a boring town like Sanford and watch someone like Angel perform the moves and abilities like his heroes on film.
Edgar Wright, who also directed SHAUN OF THE DEAD, does an excellent job with HOT FUZZ. Every cliche is used - the slow motion sequences, the insane stunts [vehicles included], the massive amounts of gunfire that never seem to hit anything or anyone, and my favorite...the montage. Plus you get moments that come straight out of POINT BREAK [Keanu Reeves shooting his gun in the air after refusing to shoot Patrick Swayze] and BAD BOYS [the helicopter flying overhead in slo-mo]. Wright uses all this and doesn't make the film look silly, but cooler in my opinion. All the action scenes are well-choreographed and shot like mainstream action flicks. The comedy is never forced with sight gags and whatnot. We get alot of scenes of the character development of Angel and Butterman as they become best friends and partners [to the point where it becomes almost homoerotic...but then again, aren't all cop-buddy films homoerotic in a certain way?]. Wright does a great job handling the script and puts an excellent display of British filmmaking on the screen. It's on par with his work on SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The man has an eye for film and I hope he never goes blind. The direction is that good.
The acting is fantastic as well. Simon Pegg brings the goods as Nicholas Angel, the straight-laced cop who's more like a police robot than a human being. He's never funny intentionally and always keeps a straight face even when outrageous things happen around him. I would probably crack up if my main mission was to chase a swan around, but Pegg is always serious and his expressions of disgust and frustration are great. He's also pretty badass as a cop, doing alot of cool stunts and kicking ass when there's a need for it. I believed he could be a real cop...he's that good.
Nick Frost as Danny Butterman was the other side of the coin, being funny and charmingly goofy. His character admires Angel, asking him questions about what it's like to be a real cop and actually doing things like in the films. He's also very physical as well, but in a sense as to how physical we would be if we tried the moves done in action films. Meaning...we would be falling flat on our faces and/or on our asses. He's just a normal, curious person - making him easy to relate to. While a great actor, I have a problem with his accent. Just that I sometimes don't understand what he's saying, although it didn't affect me understanding or liking the film less. He just kinda mumbles somewhat and I hope he pronunciates a bit more in his next film. But I liked him and Pegg together. They're like the British Abbot & Costello. Or the British Laurel & Hardy. Or the British Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Or the British Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson. Take your pick. Either way, the two have great chemistry and you enjoy every scene they're in together.
The other actors are also great, but Timothy Dalton [as Simon Skinner, the supermarker owner] stood out the most. I didn't know the former James Bond had it in him, but he's really good with comedy. He plays such a diabolical, yet disturbingly witty and funny character that you grow to love the guy. I kinda wish he were in the film more, but he was excellent when he was. The rest of the cast were all excellent and funny. No complaints at all.
And the gore...wow. I thought SHAUN OF THE DEAD had some gory scenes, but this one took the cake. My favorite was the one where the reporter's head got...well, it was like a FINAL DESTINATION death. And there were a few others too that made me speak aloud and clap at how brilliantly it was done and shot. I'm surprised nobody that I know complained about the blood splattered on screen, especially in a comedy. But dammit if I didn't love it. Just great FX work for just a small budget.
THE FINAL HOWL
HOT FUZZ is a great comedy and one of my favorite films of 2007. If you liked SHAUN OF THE DEAD, you'll probably love this film. I personally think it's better than the zombie film. By the powers of Greyskull, check this one out when it arrives on DVD. It's 2 hours of smart laughs and some good action and mystery mixed in between. Gotta love them bloody Brits.