Sunday, April 22, 2007

All hail Hot Fuzz

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.


Ian said...

I really wish I could understand what people like about "Hot Fuzz". I found it totally derivative fluff. What little humour there was we've all seen in other movies and whilst I appreciate that the film plays "homage" to a lot of other movies it's not hard to do a bad copy of something is it?

For me the film was unfunny, incredibly repetitive and way too long. From the confusing mess at the beginning (all MTV-like jump cuts and over complicated narration) to the continually repeated exaggerated "horror movie" sound effects, to the appalling weak "Carry on" jokes the whole thing struck me as some of the most self-indulgent tosh I've ever had to sit through on the silver screen.

I kept waiting for some wit or originality and all I got was a very talented cast being wasted on a poor man's "Wicker Man" pastiche that felt like they turned up each day and decided to make it up as they went along based on a one page outline for the whole film, and a knowledge of countless other movies they could emulate.

I do seem to be in the minority on this one though :(

Reel Fanatic said...

Nothing wrong with being in the minority, Ian ... I can see your point somewhat, I guess, but the only thing that really annoyed me was the jump cuts .. I guess I'm just a sucker for Simon Pegg's style of humor, because I thought it was consistently funny throughout

M said...

After reading your review I am more excited than ever to see this movie. When I was in London a few months ago it was opening and being advertised every 10 steps I would take. Needless to say, other things were taking up my time and I didn't see it there. Once I get out of my apartment, perhaps tomorrow, I will walk to the local theater and check it out!

P.S. I'm sick right now and even in my delirious state "Date Movie" was unbearable and disgusting in every way. Completely uninspired and horrible horrible horrible. I turned it off after 10 minutes of seeing it on TV.

NickDean said...

I can't wait to see this. And it's not plaing anywhere near me, which means a trip to Buffalo, NY or Erie, Pa. So I signed on to MovieFone and was greeted by a picture of John Travolta in drag for Hairspray. What is that all about?

And that Jenny Lewis song? I believe it's with Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie), Conor Oberst and M. Ward.

Ben Varkentine said...

Here in Seattle, the theater where I saw it (review on my blog) had this on the marquee:

Hot Fuzz
Sandford and Guns

We think ourselves quite clever, here in Seattle.

Divinity said...

Needed a laugh last night as I ran out of "nice" about two hours before the end of my shift at the library. Met up with a friend in town for a convention from Newfoundland (!) and she needed the same.
Hot Fuzz gave us all we needed.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah ... thanks for the clarification on that track, nickdean ... As I probably made clear, I don't really care for it, but I'm sure they at least all had fun recording it (And who in the world would ever deny a request to make a duet (or quad-et, or whatever) with Jenny Lewis?

And I have to agree that that fascist-hag zinger during the big shootout was just priceless, Divinity

cinderelly said...

we went to see it last night. i thought it was pretty funny, but i liked 'shaun of the dead' better too, though.

Julia_Claudine_Deveraux said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this. I LOVE Shaun of The Dead!

Shane Rollins said...

I'm not sure what movie Ian was expecting to see, but I saw the movie I was expecting to see. A hilarious homage to the over-the-top action movie along the lines of zombie movie homage that Shaun was. In the end I only have one thing to say...


Reel Fanatic said...

Yarp, indeed, Shane ... Ian comments here often and is always welcome, and he often has a different perspective on things than a lot of people ... I was hoping Hot Fuzz would have done better at the box office, but given its limited release I was probably asking for too much

kookiejar said...

Well, your review pretty much tears it for me, Keith. I'm absolutely off to see this one. Seems like movie season is finally upon us.

Reel Fanatic said...

I hope you're right, kookiejar ... With Spider-man coming next week, it certainly seems like the blockbusters, at least, keep coming earlier and earlier

Marina said...

Check! Heading tot he theaters tomorrow!

Ben Varkentine said...

USA Today says "[Hot Fuzz] opened strongly at No. 6 this weekend on just 825 screens, with a $7,075-per-screen average,"

MTV says that's "the best per-screen average in limited release."

"Fuzz" was never meant to compete with the blockbusters. It's doing fine.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm glad to hear it's doing fine in limited release, Ben, but it still makes me bitter that it didn't open wider ... if seriously entertaining movies like this one get the runs they deserve, all flicks would benefit

Divinity said...

Oh, I forgot to mention: They ran the trailer for Waitress ahead of HF. It looks awesome! My Newfoundland friend laughed as I "Squee!"ed everytime Nathan came on screen. :P Fan-girls rock!

Divinity said...

I actually liked Hot Fuzz better than Shaun but I'm not a huge zombie-flick follower.

Reel Fanatic said...

They showed the trailer for Waitress here too, Divinity, making it the second time it's aired here ... It's still listed as a limited release at Yahoo, but if it doesn't come here after this I'm really gonna be pissed .. It definitely looks too chicky for me, but I still want to see it

Neel Mehta said...

While I liked the movie, I agree with Ian that it was "way too long." 30 minutes could have easily been cut out. Somewhere in the middle, after the exposition but before the mystery.

Eaglewing said...

Finally watched Shaun of the Dead last week (its always checked out of the vid store) - loved it, and laughed my ass off. And I'm not even a very big fan of the zombie genre. Can't wait to see Hot Fuzz - hopefully this coming weekend with a friend who's also a Shaun fan.

I had the misfortune of watching Date Movie on TMN recently. Wow, that was bad. A comedy with no laughs - what a concept.

Reel Fanatic said...

It was indeed, Eaglewing ... I can remember exactly one point in "Date Movie" that me laugh, when the would-be suitor hoists his boombox, a la Lloyd Dobler, and blasts Player's "Baby Come Back" ... I think laughing at that joke alone proved that I was not the intended audience for this wretched flick

Vee said...

I plan on seeing it this weekend.
I wasn't thoroughly impressed with Reno 911: Miami. My friend told me "Shaun of the Dead" was hilarious so I am looking forward to catching Hot Fuzz.
Date Movie?!? I saw that one coming.

Here's my ok attempt at the Hot Fuzz movie poster.

. . . this one is not so good.

Anonymous said...

I really really enjoyed Hot Fuzz!! It was excellent, reminiscent of the humour from randall and hopkirk. I wasn't a big fan of Shaun of the Dead but Hot Fuzz was brill so long as you yourself enjoy british humour and don't need an orignial witty plot.
- Bethan

The Comedian said...

If you enjoyed Hot Fuzz then you owe it to yourself(selves?) to check out Spaced, a delightfully goofy British sitcom starring Pegg & Frost that was directed by Wright.