Hot Fuzz Review
By Joe Lozito
Top of the Cops
"Shaun of the Dead"
director Edgar Wright is having a moment. Not only is his faux-preview (the wonderfully goofy "Don't Scream") featured in the bloody Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino exploitation extravaganza "Grindhouse"
, but he's able to get Cate Blanchett, Steve Coogan and Peter Jackson to turn in uncredited - and in some cases unrecognizable - cameos in his latest film, a pitch-perfect parody of Hollywood cop movie clichés called "Hot Fuzz". Like "Shaun", his dead-on send-up of undead movies, "Fuzz" has a palpable love for its source material (particularly "Point Break", "Bad Boys II" and their ilk) and manages to skewer them while staying true to the genre.
After tallying an arrest record 400% better than any other officer on the London police force, Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg, Shaun himself) is transferred to the tiny village of Sandford where he won't continue to embarrass his fellow bobbies. While being driven to tears by Sandford's permissive attitude towards crime, as well as the inanities of speed traps and neighborhood watch, Angel catches wind of a car accident that reeks of foul play. And it's up to him to solve the case. That's about all the set-up Mr. Wright and his team need to launch this rollickingly good spoof.
Mr. Wright (and "Fuzz") maintains a very British comic sensibility. The script, which he co-wrote with Mr. Pegg, is exceedingly dry, and like "Shaun", it has teeth (insert your own British teeth joke here). This isn't the banal, safe, scatological humor of a "Scary Movie 4"
. Mr. Wright is a talented filmmaker who has clearly studied the masters of the genre he's roasting. In fact, the brilliance of "Fuzz" - and its best running gag - is how Mr. Wright applies action movie techniques to the most mundane scenes. Almost every move Angel makes - opening his locker, taking out his car keys - is accompanied by that familiar "whoosh" on the soundtrack. Even the mind-numbing act of processing "perps" and filling out paperwork is given the Tony Scott treatment.
At first Mr. Pegg is an old choice for an action hero. He's neither buff nor overtly macho. He looks more like the British descendant of William Katt from "The Greatest American Hero". Still, as he proved in "Shaun", Mr. Pegg is a fine comedic actor and he knows how to play it straight. Sgt. Angel is the perfect character to head up "Fuzz". He's one of these action movie archetypes: a cop who can do no wrong. No sooner does he arrive in Sandford than he has caught a group of minor offenders in action.
"Fuzz" reunites Mr. Pegg with his "Shaun" co-star Nick Frost as Danny Butterman. While there's (thankfully) no love story tacked onto the plot, Mr. Wright and Mr. Pegg know all too well what so many female co-stars have found in countless cop movies, "Fuzz" is a love story between these two partners. The two real-life friends make an easy on-screen team and they are surrounded with a fantastic supporting cast including Timothy Dalton, relishing his every scene, Jim Broadbent and Paul Freeman.
But nothing overshadows the love between Mr. Wright, Mr. Pegg and their source material. Despite its odd title, "Fuzz" is destined to be a comedy classic. It may run a bit long, and Mr. Wright may overly indulge his love for spurting blood, but what other movie could garner applause not just for a "Point Break" reference but for the anticipation
of that perfectly-executed moment? Now that's good comedy.