Thursday, April 19, 2007
The buzz regarding Hot Fuzz
It's going to be very hard describing Hot Fuzz without the use of hyperbole, so if I tend to go off the handle a little bit, I apologize. But I'm going out on a limb and proclaiming Hot Fuzz as the best movie of this year. I realize I have made this previous declaration mere months ago when I saw 300. But Hot Fuzz is something entirely different. Dare I say it's wonderful? I dare.
Obviously I am biased. I proudly state my undying love and devotion to Shaun of the Dead, my favorite movie of all time. (And space). Shaun of the Dead is also a nearly flawless film, in my opinion, with tight writing, real characters and pathos, and a damn fine sense of humor. Not to mention a love of gore which is never a bad thing when it's done right. With my esteem for Shaun so high, though, how could Hot Fuzz possibly follow it up?
The answer is by making an even tighter film. Shaun is my favorite, but as far as craft goes, Hot Fuzz is superior. The writing is even tighter with the gag set up and pay offs. (Some take an extremely long time to pay off, but do in such a clever way that makes it worth the wait.) The direction is even more confident this time around, and is polished to such a fine degree that Michael Bay should be a little worries of being replaced. And the performances are pitch perfect all around.
Hot Fuzz tells the story of Nick Angel (Simon Pegg), the best police detective in London. Unfortunately, his superiors find that Angel is making everybody else look bad by comparison, so they send him off to the quaint village of Sandford in northern England. The town is a bucolic paradise, where everyone knows each other, and nary a crime in sight aside from the obnoxious "Painted Man", the gold street performer. Angel is partnered with Danny (Nick Frost, playing the perfect sidekick), the police chief's slower son. Danny also has great affection for blockbuster cop action movies like Point Break and Bad Boys 2. (Curiously the second, no mention of the first). Angel, who's seen some action, dismisses it all as hollywood nonsense, and how police work involves far too much paper work. Being that the biggest threat to the safety of the village is a loose goose, it's fair to say no action will befall either of these policemen.
Naturally, bodies start appearing. Dead ones at that. (Even though they aren't reanimated this go round, they murders are still highly gruesome, showing their roots and some love to the gore fans from Shaun). Murders start happening, and Angel becomes obsessed with finding the killer. Could it be the mustache twirling grocery store owner played by Timothy Dalton? Could it be the kindly chief of Police Jim Broadbent? Or one of the countless British thespians populating this film? (What, was Judy Dench too good to return calls?) All that matters is that when the time comes down to it, guns blaze, asses gets kicked, and justice is served.
Half of the fun of this movie are the gags that are set up, but the other half comes from the plot. Most critics will claim Hot Fuzz as a parody of cop films, but it's much more than that. the best description I can come up with is what if Michael Bay made a really classy and nuanced adaptation of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. It tweaks cliches rather than points them out and giggles, like most spoof films do. This movie raises the cliches (from viewings of the films themselves), then pays a loving mockery to them later on, when the events in the film have turned the world into a Bruckheimer wet dream. The action sequences themselves are filled with more with and imagination since any movie since F/X 2:The Deadly Art of Illusion. It even includes quite possibly the funniest sight gag I've witnessed on celluloid. It's ruined in some the commercials, so if you can steer clear of them and have the surprise of it unspoiled, you will be most pleased. It's unbelievably brilliant and involves dropkicking.
Pegg and Frost have a great rapport with each other, expanding on the relationship presented between them in Shaun. this time, though, Pegg is allowed to become with Frost, and it's played to great effect. They also manage to pull off the glorious homo erotic undercurrents found in aforementioned action classics, and make it funny without making it stupid, unlike some recent films featuring middle aged bikers. I'm fully aware of the tendency to associate all things "British" with all things "Classy", but damn, Pegg, Frost and their director Edgar Wright make it seem that way.
See Hot Fuzz. See it repeatedly. I can't stress this enough. Tell your friends to see it, then tell their friends to see it, so now five people have seen it. It's a rewarding and supremely entertaining film. Much like Shaun, it requires multiple viewings to catch all the details and find jokes and clues you missed before. It's very much a labor of love, and it shows. Of course, with two fantastic films, what can these guys possibly come up with next?