Director: Edgar Wright
Verdict: Real good
Hot Fuzz follows the story of PC Nicholas Angel, as played by Simon Pegg, (Star Trek Beyond, Shaun of the Dead), who begrudgingly has to take a promotion in a remote fictional country town called Sanford. Very quickly he begins to sense that something’s amiss, and to quote Simon Pegg, “in order for us to have an exciting movie, something is”.
Sometimes it’s very hard to review comedies because there are only so many ways you can say that something just isn’t funny. So it delights me to tell you that Hot Fuzz is, very funny. Like the best pastiches, the best jokes work outside of it being a pastiche of films like Man on Fire, Point Break, and Bad Boys. God it’s weird listing a film made by a woman, (Katheryn Bigelow’s Point Break), amongst the filmography of Tony Scott and Michael Bay. Anyway – my point being that at that point in Airplane! where Leslie Neilsen says ‘of course I’m serious, and don’t call me Shirley’, it works as a joke by itself, it’s just a joke that’s grown organically out of the ridiculousness of a pastiche situation. By the same merit, it you want to set The Last Boy Scout in Cornwall, then it makes perfect sense that there’s going to be a lot of really funny jokes about how Angel thinks that everything’s murder, in a town with no recorded murders. A statistic that in the last act changes drastically, actually no it doesn’t because one of the jokes is that no one actually dies in the last act depite all the crazy action and violence. The really great thing about that premise is that Wright, Pegg, and Frost have accidentally stumbled on another load of references from a whole nother genre of films, films like The Wicker Man and Straw Dogs. Straw Dogs does actually get a very direct and on the nose reference when someone gets attacked by a man trap but not quite in the same way as in the original but it’s a really nice reference. I do just want to take this moment to say that this film is not just references to other films, as I said before most of the humour are jokes that evolve organically from the situation.
I have to take a moment to talk about the cast list, because honestly, it just looks like they’re showing off at this point. Simultaneous walk on performances from Martin Freeman, (The Hobbit, Sherlock, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Steve Coogan, (Philomena, Knowing Me, Knowing You, 24 Hour Party People), and Bill Nighy, (Love Actually); Bill Baily pops up for seconds at a time, the lead cast includes the likes of, *takes in deep breath*; Paddy Considine, Nick Frost, Timothy Dalton, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Coleman, Edward Woodward, Rafe Spall, Stuart Wilson, and Stephen Merchant, and more. What’s better is, they’re all really, really good! This seems to be a trick that Edgar Wright has pulled off with all of his 4 films, which is just to pull together a lot of really talented performers into a great ensemble cast, of the new wave of great british talent, and to a degree members of the old guard like Bill Nighy and Edward Woodward. Honestly I’d give the movie credits as I do normally for all of them but I would seriously be here for the whole review doing so.
That doesn’t mean that the film doesn’t have problems. There is a strain of boardy humour with Olivia Coleman that I have previously been uncomfortable with. However, I have a lot of respect for Olivia Coleman, I think she is one of the best actressess working at the moment. I think y’know, if she’s ok with this sort of role then I am, and it’s not even particularly severe. The second problem; in the third act is falls into, less pastiche more blatant ripping off of style, particularly Tony Scott who does have a very distinct visual style and Edgar Wright copies it very well. When you take that and put it in a remote countryside town there’s actually something rather cute about that kind of visual sensibilty, and it’s not like the jokes stop. The third act is still very, very funny, so this issue is more forgivable I think.
The great thing about Edgar Wright comedies is how straight they play them, they do have a strain of the Leslie Neilsen, deadpan pastiche films like Airplane! and The Naked Gun which I have a huge amount of affection for, and in an age filled with pastiche films like A Haunted House, Epic Movie, Scary Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, I could go on – in an age filled with these utterly ridiculous, outdated in five minutes, mostly boring, (and this is from someone who enjoyed the first Scary Movie in parts), pastiche films, it is a joy to have something as well written, as brilliantly directed, as star studded and well acted, as affectionate, and racous as Hot Fuzz. The World’s End is still my favourite of the Cornetto trilogy, (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), I think it’s the one with the highest laugh rate, but Hot Fuzz is pretty damn sweet.