I skipped seeing Blades of Glory because I know all too well its comic formula of hammering away at a single joke for an hour and a half. The makers of Hot Fuzz, and their previous film Shaun of the Dead,
are familiar with such Hollywood recipe pitfalls and know how to smash
cliches together to create original characters speaking irreverent
dialogue around preposterous plot twists with pinpoint abandon.
They deftly sprinkle in elements from action blockbusters, whodunit thrillers, slasher pictures and romantic comedies to give Hot Fuzz a joyous grab bag thrill. It has an egalitarian air that says, “You like fun movies; we like fun movies.”
Gifted screenwriter/actor Simon Pegg is Nicholas Angel, a London
super cop who puts his fellow officers to shame with daily displays of
superior copsmanship that backfire into a Sergeant “promotion” that
comes with a transfer to the small town of Somerset. Keen on keeping
his big city police skills sharp, the humorless Nicholas makes several
arrests on his first night in town, only to discover the next morning
that his temporary prisoner from the night before, Danny Butterman
(Nick Frost), is also his new patrol partner.
Coincidences continue as Danny, an oafish cop-movie fan, is also son
to Chief Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), the town’s wily
chieftain. Danny and Frank’s father/son relationship later plays a
significant part in fulfilling the comic duplication of one of Danny’s
favorite action scenes with Keanu Reeves from Point Break.
Pegg plays Nicholas Angel with an intensity that matches the
three-mile squint of Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movies. But Pegg
also brings a modern casualness that is disarmingly appealing for its
understated comic potential. Nicholas is a loner in love with police
work, and the first half of the movie is dedicated to discovering
Nicholas’ disciplined mentality as he relates to members of the
cloistered town’s oddball citizenry.
Murders disguised as deadly accidents are taking the lives of
Sanford residents, and the presence of a shrouded Grim Reaper figure
draws Nicholas and his sidekick Danny to suspect local grocery store
baron Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) of being a serial killer. As the
grotesque nature of the apparently random murders escalates, so too
does the blood and bullets spectacle that rivals gnarly
action-thrillers like Bad Boys II, a movie referenced in one of Danny’s rants about great cop movies.
Over the course of two pictures, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz,
director Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have forged a British cottage film
industry based on creating energized genre spoofs. Their solid
achievements beg a question that Hollywood should be asking itself
about the validity of remaking films, as opposed to generating movies
that condense and blend genre formulas.
There’s nothing new under the sun, but Wright and Pegg are pumping
new life into cinema with comedies that wear their influences on their
sleeves. Their approach isn’t far from Woody Allen’s early films that
paid a huge debt to the Marx Brothers movies.
Hot Fuzz runs about 10
minutes too long, apparently because the filmmakers were having too
much fun to know when to quit. There are certainly far worse problems
to be had with most movies playing at your local multiplex. MTW