Judge Brett Cullum would make a good cop. He eats lots of doughnuts.
DS Andy Wainwright: You do know there are more guns in the country than there
are in the city.
Edgar Winter's Shaun of the Dead made stars out of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and it was interesting to speculate what the trio could come up with next to continue their career. Would it hold up to high expectations? Let me emphatically say Hot Fuzz is just as funny as their previous effort, chocked full of pop-culture nods, and it makes mincemeat of American action movie conventions. It's a great experience on DVD with plenty of extras that effectively expand the world they've created. This is a "must buy" title that should find its way easily into any film fan's collection.
Facts of the Case
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead) is a London-based supercop, and he's so perfect at his job he is embarrassing the rest of the force. As a result of his immaculate record, the Chief Inspector transfers Angel to a sleepy village named Sandford that has won "Village of the Year" consistently for two decades. The idyllic Sandford seems to have no crime, and its inhabitants are charming and quirky. It's hardly the place where you'd need a strong arm of the law. Angel is paired up with a bumbling partner named Danny Butterman (Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead) who happens to be the son of the chief of police in Sandford. Danny is an action movie junkie with a DVD collection that includes well-worn copies of Point Break, Bad Boys, and John Woo flicks. He longs for the kind of excitement Angel has seen in his career while serving in a big city. Little does Butterman know his quaint home Sandford hides a secret, and both Angel and his charge will have to become American action heroes to survive what is coming to the sleepy village this year.
Hot Fuzz is a bloody brilliant satire, and it blusters along paying homage to overdone glossy epics the likes of which Michael Bay, Tony Scott, and Jerry Bruckheimer would crank out. The high octane film reveres epic chaos and directly quotes from the action genre with such skill you'd almost buy it as a bona fide bit of American produced violent entertainment. There are sequences so well done, you'd swear they brought in John Woo to direct. Hot Fuzz does so much with a little budget it puts other action flicks to shame.
As the leads, both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost pull off a major coup. Pegg lost over 20 pounds and beefed up to correctly play Angel, while Frost probably gained that much eating donuts to be a chunky small-town cop. The brilliance of what they do is commit totally to these characters, and there is no winking at the audience by either of them. There is a strong homoerotic bond between the two men, and even that correctly apes a slicker big-budget action film. They are given great lines delivered so deadpan you might miss them. The script serves the pair well, and the direction is stylish to complement the performances.
The supporting cast provides an inside sly joke as much as the style or script delivers. Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights) shows up as the sleazy owner of the local supermarket. Edward Woodward (The Equalizer) appears as the surly head of the Neighborhood Watch Association (NWA). Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark) is an all-too-happy reverend. Billie Whitelaw (The Omen) plays the matron of the local hotel. Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge) is Butterman's father. Just to add to the insider cool of the flick we also get Peter Jackson (director of King Kong) and Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) in cameos as a knife-wielding Father Christmas and a masked CSI investigator, respectively.
The DVD for Hot Fuzz is jam-packed with extras and presented well. There are outtakes, deleted scenes, and a whole wealth of information to wade through. Front and center is a commentary with director Edgar Wright and leading man Simon Pegg which covers the background of the production well. They have an easy rapport natural to two men who have worked closely together for years. Optional storyboard views can be accessed throughout the movie, as well as a text trivia track to point out tidbits and homage information. There is a featurette chronicling the misadventures on the press tour through North America, and several short comedic bits. The transfer is solid enough with a nice wide anamorphic transfer which provides great color depth. Blacks are a bit deep at times, but perhaps this is a stylistic choice. Edge enhancement does pop up here and there, but that is the extent of digital artifacts. The surround track rumbles along with a nice use of the speakers throughout the room. It all feels like a fabulous two-disc set crammed onto a single one. Of course in other regions Hot Fuzz is a two-disc set with more commentaries and features, so true hardcore fans may want to invest in the import version. The HD-DVD version here in Region One has more bonus features crammed onto it. The commentary makes reference to the "two disc" version indicating it is the same as the U.K. one with director and lead actor, so the Region Two edition would be the most complete.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
At just a minute over two hours the film does feel a bit long. I'm not sure where you could make snips, because everything pays off well. I appreciate the time it takes to develop the characters and the situation. Still, there is something about the middle act that drags just a bit. A tighter running time would have meant a wider audience, but the movie is smart enough to not feel indulgent with the length. Edgar Wright knows fans can't get enough of his material, and graciously provides plenty of it to mull over.
Go ahead and rent or better yet buy this DVD, because Hot Fuzz is the funniest comedy of 2007. Nobody's going to come close to this kind of brilliance anytime soon. Just as Shaun of the Dead turned the zombie film on its head, this one takes the piss right out of American action films and buddy cop dramas. It's a gag that is far grander and more elegant than any of the Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer movies it sets out to skewer.
Guilty of being the most fun action satire I've ever seen. Hot Fuzz comes to DVD where hopefully it will get the massive audience it deserves. It's a blast!
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Scales of Justice
• Feature Commentary with Lead Actor Simon Pegg and Director Edgar Wright
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