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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.44%
Average: 10.34%
Pretty Bad: 2.3%
Total Crap: 0%

8 reviews, 39 user ratings

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Hot Fuzz
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by Erik Childress

"William Munny - Meet Nicholas Angel."
5 stars

Shaun of the Dead was a rare breed of a movie. So rare, in fact, that I found myself criticizing the final third of it for drifting away from its more spoof-in-cheek mentality and becoming a defacto zombie movie like any other. It wasn’t until a second viewing that I saw what Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and company were up to. Shaun wasn’t a spoof in the Zucker/Abrahams sense. Instead it played both sides towards the middle, creating genuine characters within the absurdity of ordinary individuals fighting off a mutant plague. It was a brilliant combination and a helluva first act to follow-up for the newcomers to American audiences. From zombies-to-cops they have gone though and it’s the sort of Grade-A+ experience that film geeks, moreso than even Grindhouse, walk out feeling rejuvenated. At long last, here are guys who get it, doing what the underappreciated Last Action Hero failed to do by many people’s account – skate directly on the line between creating a satire of cop movie clichés and being a first-rate cop movie in its own right. And that’s the faintest praise I can give it cause this is as brilliant a deconstruction of any genre I’ve seen since Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) may be the greatest cop who has even patrolled the streets. In an opening montage edited to perfection, Angel’s career is documented to a max that would make Robocop’s arrest record rookie bait. London is a better place because of him, but his fellow officers look worse than Keystone’s finest as a result and he is forced to transfer to a peaceful little place in the country called Sandford. The police force here is led by Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), a cheery chap who gives Angel the grand tour including the knowledge that the neighborhood watch has the best equipment in the department. There hasn’t been a single murder or mishap in Sandford in years. Their idea of controlling the peace is opening up the pubs to the underage to keep the riff-raff off the street such as those damned living statues and crusty jugglers.

This is a police station where swear jars are the norm, practical jokes are enacted to fill the jar and desserts are in constant supply thanks to said jar and any officer screw-up. The leader in that department is Butterman’s son, Danny (Nick Frost), an oaf-ish daddy’s boy who doesn’t find police work living up to the action films he fills an entire room with. Angel is partnered up with him and being constantly queried if he’s ever lived up to the action hero’s life of shooting two guns while flying through the air or exploding a head with a single bullet. Then things start getting real. Extravagant deaths are occurring in Sandford and being routinely dismissed as accidents. Angel suspects all clues lead to grocery store owner, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), a brash chap who always seems to appear at the crime scenes and loves making inappropriate references to killing people. But can he convince his hard-and-knuckle-headed officers before the town is judged for its annual congeniality prize?

That last plot aspect makes Hot Fuzz sound like the kind of vehicle attached to names like Harry Crumb and Corky Romano, but that’s just an inkling of its genius. Writers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg don’t limit themselves to taking on the obvious clichés of double-barrel action vehicles. They’re going for it all, incorporating both the hardcore and the sillier aspects. Throw in a little British sensibility and the plodding impracticality of an Agatha Christie mystery and somehow they still manage to bring it all back to perhaps the worst action film ever made, namely Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II. Being one of the most vile films on record, it’s no accident that Wright amps up the blood quotient to accentuate the occasionally excessive gore that comes with using human beings as nothing but clay pigeons with dialogue.

Holding Hot Fuzz up to a modern work of art like Unforgiven may seem like a reach out of grasp of even the most supportive of Shaun fanboys. I will make no apologies about it though. When you consider they are both movies based around a hero and an anti-hero, figures in a life of myth created by writers looking to inject legends into an otherwise unrepentant world, the elements are as clear as day and no less significant. Wright and Pegg may cop to Angel’s aversion to guns as a wink to The Rock’s Beck in The Rundown, but when he is left to ride into town as the literal avenging Angel on a white horse it is distinctly Eastwood. And as he takes charge and dispenses justice throughout Sandford, it’s as prophetic as William Munny living up to the legend that the bad guys should fear as if all the wrath of Heaven and Hell had fingered them for judgment. That and its inconceivable to imagine a more fitting and brilliantly entertaining final act than any film in recent memory.

Pegg and Frost couldn’t be better in these roles, continuing a professional partnership that is rising with a bullet to some of the most memorable comedy duos the movies have seen. It may look similar to their Shaun characters (the defacto leader and the loutish sidekick), but Pegg goes from insecure loser to confident superman and Frost injects Danny not with the crudity of his previous slacker but with the childlike uncertainty and enthusiasm that comes from getting to finally be a star in his own action movie. These guys know how to fill out a character as well as they do their casts. Starting with the three brilliant British cameos as Angel’s London superiors, you can go right on down the list and find something to praise. From Broadbent’s unerring optimism to Dalton’s dubious anti-James Bond profiteer, Sandford is populated with one memorable turn after another. Rafe Spall and Paddy Considine are spot-on as the “other” partnership always butting heads with our heroes. If you can find a more inspired double-take than the one Considine puts into frame, I’ll go triple. On the civilian side you’ve got Paul “Belloq” Freeman as the town priest, Lethal Weapon 3’s heavy Stuart Wilson as Sandford’s doctor and The Equalizer himself, Edward Woodward, watching the neighborhood from every angle.

Everything from Point Break to Chinatown gets its own homage in Hot Fuzz which is parody, satire, homage, revisionism and balls-out action film all-in-one. How many directors can you name that can wink, poke and nudge an entire genre by simultaneously not cracking a smile and busting a gut at the same time? Edgar Wright has now done it twice. This isn’t just a Zucker brother or Robert Rodriguez knowing the rules of the game and having a little fun with them. Wright is the genuine article working around the various styles he’s clearly learned from and still recognizing the need for characters we care about and a story (no matter how ridiculous) that has more callback jokes and references than you can pickup in only a single viewing. I’ve already seen it twice and I can’t wait to see what discoveries a third go-round has in store.

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originally posted: 04/20/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

1/27/19 Jarod Oh my gods hot fuzz was in incredible funny but awesome 5 stars
5/01/18 Bents Had fun w/this movie. Was not what I was expecting 4 stars
9/14/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
8/31/13 Bert crude, violent, I quit midway 2 stars
5/28/12 Stefani K Fantastic. 5 stars
2/11/12 Bill White I agree with Rob. I gave it a two and a half on Rotten Tomatoes. The ending is pathetic. 2 stars
8/25/10 the dork knight Pegg is this movie. A couple nice buddy moments between him and Frost, too. 5 stars
10/25/09 Trent Coming from a US citizen, amazing movie, right up there with Shaun of the Dead 5 stars
10/01/08 Shaun Wallner I really enjoyed this film. 5 stars
4/14/08 Will Tingle Peggs best yet - can't imagine it works outside UK though... 5 stars
3/25/08 Isaac M. Baranoff Enjoyed it. Good film. 4 stars
3/21/08 Jeff As always Pegg was excellent 5 stars
3/17/08 Zachary Excellent movie, non-stop laughter. 5 stars
1/31/08 Beck Finaly a police satire that isn't afraid to have the hero actually kick some ass. 5 stars
12/04/07 ES 1 big laugh and a craptacular ending that kills all the goodwill generated by the beginning 3 stars
11/22/07 mr.mike not bad despite the somewhat dopey ending. Dalton is terrific 4 stars
9/28/07 R.W. Welch Outlandish cop satire. Just when you think it can't get any flakier, it does. 4 stars
9/24/07 Jason Brilliant, the turn from a horror movie to a comedy to an action film was seemless. 5 stars
9/15/07 AnnieG I didn't laugh as much as I expected, but I liked this film nonetheless. 4 stars
9/02/07 Quigley One of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. Pegg and Frost rule so much. Rock on ! 5 stars
8/06/07 Monday Morning Gonsalves is right on - some good laughs but overall, just slightly better than AVERAGE. 3 stars
8/02/07 D Just rented it yesterday, and it is hilarious 5 stars
8/01/07 Dark Enchantress funny movie and had great action 5 stars
7/12/07 Louise Extremely entertaining and funny! Great British humour! 4 stars
6/11/07 al smith porceline is a fucking cock at least britain has some fresh ideas unlike shitty usa 5 stars
6/03/07 Steven Boring at the begging, best 45 min ending ever 4 stars
5/28/07 Rebecca Friggin hilarious! 5 stars
5/27/07 jcjs great, awesome..this site is way too slow now, not worth coming here imbd is the way to go 5 stars
5/16/07 Elizabeth Entertaining -- and any film which appreciates "Point Break" is fine with me! 4 stars
5/15/07 Richard Seen it twice, waiting for the DVD to come out in US! 5 stars
5/08/07 Dave well funny, me n my mate laughed loads 5 stars
5/07/07 Chris Lada OMG, funny!!!! 5 stars
5/05/07 hedd well made and pretty funny, but Gonsalves I agree 3 stars
5/04/07 Stacy Just great! 5 stars
5/03/07 Wesley Haven't laughed at a film this hard in a while. Truly remarkable. 5 stars
5/02/07 Ole Man Bourbon Really well-made film, funny. 4 stars
4/24/07 Luke Not as good as Shaun but bloody great nontheless 4 stars
4/23/07 joker allready own on dvd as out in uk 5 stars
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  20-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 31-Jul-2007

  DVD: 11-Jun-2007


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