While it sounds like a slightly bizarre porn movie Hot Fuzz is, of course, the follow-up film from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, the creative force behind sit-com Spaced and ‘zom rom com’ Shaun of the Dead. Again, they’ve taken a standard genre – in this instance, the police thriller and the buddy movie plus a dash of The Avengers – and given it a unique, and rather British, spin. And, once again, the results are pretty damn funny.
A beefed up Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a young, ambitious copper from London. His arrest rate is second to none, his dedication to the force is unerring and he keeps rejecting promotions because it’ll take him off the streets. All of which means, inevitably, that he’s a royal pain in the buttocks who makes everybody else look bad, so his superiors – played by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy – decide that the time has come to get Angel off the streets of London… and onto the streets of Sandford in Gloucestershire, winner of Britain’s Best Village and as crime-packed as, say, Trumpton.
However, the Best Village title comes at a price, as Angel slowly discovers. What looks like a sleepy little village may not be as innocent as the lavender-scented gift shoppe and tea room façade implies. In fact, when certain locals start dying in mysterious accidents, Angel’s suspicions are aroused and he realises Sandford may be hiding a very dark secret indeed. But can he persuade his fellow coppers, who prefer cake to crime-solving, that there’s something amiss? And, while he’s at it, locate a missing swan?
Hot Fuzz is a curious tale, and is perhaps best viewed as a high-octane thriller with jokes rather than a flat out comedy. Laughs are not constant but, when they hit, they hit big. In the meantime, as they did with Shaun of the Dead, Pegg and Wright rip into – and rip off – the genres they’re parodying with frequently grisly effect. Their confidence is enormous. Like the Dylan-Moran-as-buffet scene in Shaun… the two don’t have any problem in smacking their point home with a lot of stage blood and unexpected ultraviolence.
The structure is a bold one and, to be frank, not always successful. The middle act here is a little flabby and though the end more than makes up for things – it’s hilarious AND a massive adrenaline rush – it’s hard not to feel that a little judicious editing might have made Fuzz an instant classic. Instead, it’s a flawed classic that you’ll probably want to see at least twice and be quoting for the rest of the year. Pegg is excellent, and there’s sterling support, of course, from Nick Frost as the shambling village bobby – and action movie obsessive – he gets paired with. Stalwarts of the current comedy scene – Olivia Colman, the aforementioned trio, Kevin Eldon, Bill Bailey, Adam Buxton – pop up to deliver their customary first rate performances. Colman, in particular, is excellent as innuendo-loving 70s throwback (and decidedly non) PC Doris Thatcher.
Some will say it’s a bit of a mess and the mish-mash of styles is not terribly pretty, if you want to get all cinematic and, frankly, a little bit poncy. But as violent thriller buddy movie Avengers-themed parodies with belly laughs go, it’s undoubtedly the best you’ll see this year.
• Watch the Hot Fuzz trailer HERE