Hot Fuzz

I'm not quite sure how we managed it but we missed seeing Hot Fuzz, the parody of cop buddy films from the creators of one of my favorite zombie films, Shaun of the Dead, when it was in the theaters earlier in the year. Now it's out on DVD and well worth the wait. This part may be a bit confusing so bear with me as we sort out who's who. Edgar Wright cowrote the film and directed it. Simon Pegg (who played Shaun in Shaun of the Dead) was the other writer and stars as Nicholas Angel, super cop, and Nick Frost (who was Ed in Shaun in Shaun of the Dead) plays his sidekick, Danny Butterman. Hot Fuzz is vastly entertaining; funny, hip, clever and quirky and just as much an homage as it is a send up of the genre it gently mocks.

Police officer Nicholas Angel is good at his job, top of his class at the academy, scourge of the London criminal class and master of all he attempts. He's so good in fact that he makes the rest of his team look bad, so they bundle off to a sleepy village in the country where his talents are expected to atrophy. But of course he's not the type to let that happen. When Angel arrives he is a little too keen and arrests half the village for drinking offenses, including his new partner Danny Butterman, before he has even reported for duty.

Despite the animosity of most of his new coworkers, who are annoyed with him because they think he's been sent there to show them how to do their jobs, Angel continues to behave as a crack police officer, wearing his bulletproof vest at all times, taking every case seriously, even the case of the escaped swan. He tries to teach Danny that no matter how peaceful things look there's always something going on and how to look at the world and see what's happening underneath, but Danny seems only interested in making real life resemble cop films. Danny asks questions like "Have you ever screamed and fired your gun into the air?" and "What was the second most painful thing that ever happened to you?" and generally gets on Angel's nerves.

But Danny is actually paying attention to what Angel has to say, repeating his wisdom and working on becoming a better officer, and eventually the two bond and become friends. They spend an evening drinking and watching cop films, although Angel's only real comment about the films is that there would be "a considerable amount of paperwork involved' in the aftermath of any of the movies they just watched. Meanwhile Angel is getting suspicious of a series of gruesome accidents that he believes are crimes and he's determined to get to the bottom of them even if he has to go it alone.

The film is studded with stars, often in cameo roles, including Timothy Dalton as the ultra creepy grocer Simon Skinner. I think this is just one of the little jokes that are scattered through the film as his most famous cinema role has been playing James Bond in License to Kill. Angel's badge number in Hot Fuzz is 777, echoing the Bond motif. I figure the badge number means he's three times as good as Bond and deserves three sevens instead of just one. Rumor has it that director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, King Kong) asked to be in the film and plays the part of the Santa who stabs Angel in the hand at the very beginning of the movie.

While I don't think that Hot Fuzz is quite as funny as the team's previous film Shawn of the Dead, (possibly because I think zombies are inherently funnier than police officers although I suspect a zombie cop would be automatically hilarious) I thoroughly enjoyed it and in fact watched it twice, picking up a lot of little jokes and themes that I missed the first time through. The biggest drawback of the copy we watched is that the dialogue is rather quiet while the action is really loud so we had to switch the sound up and down a few times during the course of the film.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Anime Fan who reviews Diana Wynne Jones' novel, Howl's Moving Castle, "If you've seen the movie you need to read the book. There is so much in the book that wasn't in the movie. It's simply amazing. If I hadn't had to take it back to the library I'd be rereading it now." Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.