Thursday, June 20, 2013

#1,039. Hot Fuzz (2007) - The Films of Edgar Wright

Directed By: Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Timothy Dalton

Tag line: "Big Cops. Small Town. Moderate Violence"

Trivia: Simon Pegg had weapons training in preparation for his role as Nick Angel, and also learned how to skid a bicycle properly along the way

Edgar Wright, who scored a hit with 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, continues his celebration of genre cinema with the hilarious Hot Fuzz, a 2007 movie that’s as much a high-octane action flick as it is a side-splitting comedy.

Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the finest policeman in all of London. In fact, he’s a little too good at his job, and his peers on the force are tired of him showing them up. So, in spite of his exemplary record, Angel is "re-assigned" to the small town of Sandford, a quiet community where nothing much happens... ever! 

Partnered with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the son of the chief Inspector (Jim Broadbent), Angel now spends his days searching for escaped geese and chasing down the occasional shoplifter. But when a series of tragic “accidents” results in the violent deaths of some of Sandford’s least popular citizens, Angel suspects foul play. 

He is convinced the shifty Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), owner of the local supermarket, is somehow behind these tragedies. But is Skinner acting alone?

Pegg and Frost, who were excellent as the best pals in Shaun of the Dead, are pitch-perfect as Hot Fuzz's “buddy” cops, two polar opposites who, despite their differences, work together to protect an entire village. Many of the film’s funnier moments stem from their unlikely partnership, with Frost’s Danny, who is a big fan of action flicks, constantly pressing Pegg’s Angel to talk about his days as a London police officer. When Angel reveals he was once stabbed, Danny asks what it felt like. “It was the single most painful experience of my life”, Angel replies, matter-of-factly. After a slight pause, Danny counters with, “What was the second most painful?” 

Over time, Angel and Danny begin to influence each other, with Danny taking his work more seriously and the normally tight-assed Angel cutting loose from time to time (he even spends a night watching Point Break and other action flicks). The two actors, who, aside from Shaun of the Dead, have teamed up several times throughout the years (including the sci-fi / comedy Paul in 2011), make for a likeable pair, and give the audience someone to root for when things get serious.

As funny as the film is, Hot Fuzz is also a fine action movie, with tons of excitement and some truly grisly violence (one character gets their head crushed by a stone gargoyle). To keep things moving along at a brisk pace, director Wright relies on quick cuts and sharp camera angles to accentuate the more intense scenes, culminating in a final act that is out of this world. 

By styling the action so convincingly, Hot Fuzz proves, in the end, that it's much more than a parody, or an homage to movies like Dirty Harry and Mad Max. It is a thrilling film in its own right, one that just happens to make us laugh, over and over again.

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