Nicholas Angel: We have to do something, Frank's appointed himself as Judge, Jury and Executioner.
Danny Butterman: He is not Judge Judy and Executioner!
Just in case anyone thinks I was crazy enough to drive more than three hours round-trip just to see this movie, well, you're almost right. I did drive that far to see "Hot Fuzz," but to make it worth the trip, I met up with some old friends for a day of record shopping, lunch, the movie and then a couple of drinks at Athens' Manhattan Lounge (but only a couple, I did have to drive a ways to get home.)
And, all in all, it was a nearly perfect day with a nearly perfect movie at the middle of it. As I was watching Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's very witty "Hot Fuzz," part of me couldn't help but hope it would fail here in the U.S. (and it just might be predestined to do so with its ridiculously limited release.) Don't get me wrong: I hope just about everyone sees this razor-sharp spoof of cop movies, I just fear what will come in its wake.
Though "Hot Fuzz" is superior to "Scary Movie" and any of the spoof "comedies" that came after it, I'm still so permanently scarred by sitting through "Date Movie" that I fear any success for "Hot Fuzz" will just create another wave of these duds (Seriously, did anyone else see "Date Movie"? If you did, can you recall even one funny moment in the entire movie?) But back to "Hot Fuzz."
The two reasons it succeeds so well where these others mostly failed is that it's singular in its focus on the buddy-cop genre of movies ("Point Break" and "Bad Boys II" in particular come in for some overly telegraphed but still very funny hits), and it's just laugh-out-loud funny throughout (as the very loud laugher in front of me proved.)
Until its appropriately over-the-top big finish, "Hot Fuzz" unfolds on a very slow burn. Simon Pegg plays Sergeant Nicholas Angel, a supercop whose extreme competence gets him reassigned from London to Sandford, a k a West bumfuck. Once there he gets paired up with a dimwitted bumbler (Nick Frost, of course), and together they uncover proof that even in the middle of nowhere life isn't always quite what it seems to be.
In this buildup, a lot of the humor (like in the slightly superior "Shaun of the Dead") comes from perfectly timed and very bloody gore. Be warned: Seeing a chunk of a church tower take the place of a reporter's head is particularly gruesome, but very funny.
And Pegg and Frost just keep getting better as the movie goes along. Pegg plays it extremely straight and gets his best laughs in the kind of earnest speeches that serve as high drama in the flicks "Hot Fuzz" takes down. Anyone who doubts Simon Pegg is one of the funniest dudes in the world needs only to watch "M:I:III," which had almost no (intentional) laughs until his five-minute stint near the end that was just hilarious. And Nick Frost plays dumb smarter than anyone I can think of.
None of this would work, of course, if there weren't a ridiculously sinister plot to uncover. I won't tell you what it is, but it's helped along by Jim Broadbent, who I most like watching when he's clearly having fun, as he was here. I haven't liked him so much since "Topsy Turvy." Timothy Dalton is also a hoot as the requisite "Prime Suspect," grocer Simon Skinner.
My only real beef with the setup was that Edgar Wright adapted some of the editing techniques of the movies he was making fun of. The jump-cutting between scenes reminded me, God forbid, of "Domino."
And the big finish is appropriately insane, starting with Simon Pegg riding into town on a white horse and strapped with enough artillery to arm a small militia. I didn't stop laughing throughout this barrage of bullets and bulls-eye jokes.
After it settles down, however, the movie goes on at least 10 minutes too long with a couple too many endings, my only other beef. It's like the record I had bought a few hours earlier, "Rabbit Fur Coat" by Jenny Lewis and the Watson twins. It's really my kind of pop record, three women with beautiful voices singing fractured love songs. But then Jenny had to go and ruin it with a thoroughly unnecessary remake of the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care" (a duet, I believe, with Mr. Bright Eyes Conor Oberst.) Like the ending of "Hot Fuzz," it was just forgettable filler.
But, also like the ending of this very funny flick, it wasn't nearly enough to ruin the overall product. Do yourself a favor and go see "Hot Fuzz" already.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 5:57 AM