reviewed by Andrew James
Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is the top cop on the London Police Force. So great in fact, that his superiors decide to transfer him to a remote little village in the country as he is making the entire team look bad with his huge arrest rate and brilliant detective skills. Upon arriving in Bumville, UK, Angel is introduced to the bumbling officers of the community and his dim-witted but lovable partner (Frost). Together, they patrol this mostly boring town where the most exciting or dangerous thing to happen is a swan getting loose from its pen. That changes quick enough as a series of brutal murders begin to occur; and while the rest of the police force believes it to be a series of unfortunate accidents, Angel believes it is a murderous rampage with several possible suspects.
If you're looking for a mile-a-minute laugh riot, this isn't the film for you. Yes, there are some laugh out loud moments and yes it's some of the most cleverly written dialogue for a comedic duo you're ever likely to see. But the comedy in this film really lies in its details and homages to other action films, that unless you're paying close attention and unless you've seen these countless films from the 80s and 90s yourself, much of the comedy may go right over your head.
The comedy works best between Pegg and Frost who worked equally well together in Shaun of the Dead. They're ability to play off of one another and the obvious chemistry between the two is mostly unparalleled in today's comedic performances and duos. Besides these two is one of the largest ensembles of British character actors ever assembled for the screen. Most notably of these is Timothy Dalton (former James Bond) who puts on a devilishly hilarious performance as Angel's primary suspect. Other fun but short roles include Steve Coogan and "The Office (UK version)" star Martin Freeman.
Most of the action and tributes to various action directors and their styles come within about the last 20 minutes of the film. You'll see styles that compare considerably to John Woo, Michael Bay, Tony Scott and even a little bit of Guy Ritchie; just to name a few. I smiled to myself as each brief scene flickered before me. Again, it's all about the details. I look forward to seeing the film again to watch for all of the small things I missed because I was trying to follow the surface humor and storyline as well. And just for fun, watch for two major, Oscar winners in different cameos within the film. They're difficult to spot, but keep your eyes peeled and you just might catch them.
There is a serious predictability factor here, but this actually plays well with the notion of what Wright and Pegg are going for. Since you pretty much know how things will work out because you've seen this movie a million times, the predictability actually works well as a build up to several jokes.
There is a fair bit of violence here, but it's played up in a comedic way and it's so very over the top that it's completely unbelievable and more worthy of a chuckle than a flinch or fright. Still, the blood squirts freely at a couple of points, so be prepared for that. If you've seen Grindhouse, you've seen Edgar Wright's faux trailer entitled "Thanksgiving" and know what to expect at a couple of moments in Hot Fuzz.
Don't think of this film so much as a spoof or parody. Hot Fuzz is more like an homage to action films with a comedic edge to it. Because it does take what it is trying to accomplish and the people it is "mocking" seriously. This is a group of guys who respect their action forefathers and wanted to build monument in their honor, but with some laughs in between. This is not Airplane or Hot Shots!.
Fans of the action genre will be quite at home with recognizable style tributes and several references to the films they love and grew up with. Those looking for an enjoyable script that works best with an eye for detail and a penchant for quick, back and forth, bantering dialogue will also find enjoyment. If you're looking for something with loads of laughs and zaniness, or even a bunch of action packed scenes, you'll be let down here. And for those of you like me, who wanted more Shaun of the Dead, it works for a while but in retrospect it's no where near as good as Shaun is. And because of this I have to go against popular opinion and honestly say that this movie isn't as great as being hailed. It IS good, it IS funny and it has loads of substance and ingenuity. But I sat through a lot of the picture with a bit of confusion because A) it just isn't all that funny and B) this is just another version of Shaun using a different genre as subtext and with not nearly the innovation. I certainly still recommend the film and even long to see it again eventually; but for my money it's missing some of the creativity and laughs that made its predecessor so enjoyable.
IMDb profile - full cast and crew
FLIXSTER PROFILE for Hot Fuzz