2007Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg
ccording to advertisements, Hot Fuzz is “from the guys who watched every action movie ever made…and created Shaun of the Dead.” Quite. The über-nerds who created 2004’s cult ‘romzomcom’ (Romantic Zombie Comedy) have returned, replete with a bigger budget and a cast full of renowned English thespians, to spoof the cop film. After the bona fide success of Shaun, which mixed spot-on genre referencing with real character and sentiment, I went into Hot Fuzz thinking Edgar Wright (the director/writer), Simon Pegg (the writer/star), and Nick Frost (the rotund bumbling sidekick) could do no wrong.
With preconceptions like that, it’s hardly surprising that Hot Fuzz turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. It starts fabulously, introducing us to Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Pegg), a super do-gooder London constable who has an arrest record 400% higher than anyone else in the service. A procession of high-ranking powers that be (played, in hilarious succession, by Brit comedy titans Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy) let him know that he’s been transferred to the sleepy village of Sanford to stop making his peers look so bad. So the straight-laced Angel must adjust to the twee, crimeless life of the Sanford PD, his boss a “boys-will-be-boys” softie played by Jim Broadbent, and his partner a drunken clod (Frost) who idolizes the badass heroes of the action films he constantly watches. So far, so comedy.
The city vs. country stuff is all well and good—it’s not like the English countryside hasn’t been satirized before, but the writers manage to get in a few good jabs, including a dreadful amateur production of Romeo and Juliet and a crazy unintelligible farmer who keeps an arsenal of weapons in his barn. The cast list is the best of Britain too, including former James Bond, Timothy Dalton, as a preening villain, Paddy Considine (In America) as a gruff detective, and Edward Woodward (the original Wicker Man) as an obsessive neighborhood watch commander. When Hot Fuzz gets to the meat of its plot, though, the wheels definitely begin to come off the bus. One of the advantages of Shaun of the Dead had, in spoofing the zombie horror genre, was an embarrassingly simple plot. No such luck here, where too much time is spent on Angel unraveling a nonsensical conspiracy that is too easy to figure out and simply not funny enough.
At 121 minutes, Hot Fuzz well outstays its welcome, spending too much time on each of the three acts: introducing the town, solving the murder mystery, and the protracted super-homage of the action-packed, guns-blazing finale. Countless action films are referenced (I’m sure someone in cyberspace has already begun tallying them up) and the humorously graphic ultraviolence used so well in Shaun of the Dead is back with a vengeance, but it all feels much more hollow. The problem lies with the genre being lampooned: the beats of a cop film are a little too obvious to construct a truly original story around, especially considering how many times it has been sent up before. Instead of actually getting us emotionally invested in its protagonists, which was the achievement of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz ends up being an undeniably enjoyable, but really rather lame succession of gags and brutality.
Hot Fuzz is currently playing in wide release in the UK. It is set to be released in April in the United States.
By: David Sims
Published on: 2007-02-26