Hot Fuzz Review: Hilarious Fun, But Not Perfect
by Alex Billington
April 19, 2007
Disclaimer: This was screened in advance with a crowd of hardcore fans at WonderCon in San Francisco. We're bringing it back up again because the film is finally opening here in the US this weekend.
Ever since Shaun of the Dead's cult success in America, the trio of director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have become a hot commodity. Their latest offering, Hot Fuzz, is a farce that mocks England's police in every possible way with a nod to campy cop flicks like Point Break and Bad Boys II. The good news is that the film is as hilarious and entertaining as you would expect a Wright-Pegg feature to be, but Hot Fuzz is not as strong and not as good as Shaun of the Dead.
Police Constable Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is one of the finest cops ever in the London force, with an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer. He's so good he's sent to the small rural town of Sandford, where he is partnered with Police Chief Frank Butterman's (Jim Broadbent) action-movie-fanatic son Danny (Nick Frost). His efforts to solve Sandford's crime problem are quickly cut short by a series of murders, but only thought to be accidents by the rest of the townsfolk. While dealing with the outlandish requests of the police force, even more residents are murdered and Angel begins to uncover a dark secret about the town, where he must go rogue to take on the evil forces himself.
In Hot Fuzz, director Edgar Wright doesn't rely on the areas that made Shaun of the Dead so great. Instead he implements a completely new style and a new vision to the film. It has a horrific tone to it, with thundering booms and exaggerated sound effects once nighttime hits. The exaggeration and spoofing in every scene, the caricatured characters, and the pulp-fiction story are what make Wright's creations so great. However, where in Shaun of the Dead it was easy to idolize both Pegg's and Frost's characters, in Hot Fuzz it's harder to relate to them and their stern performance.
Wright seems to have a long list of idols, not only directly spoofing scenes from Point Break and Bad Boys II but also borrowing the editing style from Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream for a few scenes. Hot Fuzz was almost too fast paced, with editing straight out of a trailer and both dialogue and scenes whizzing by at bullet-like speeds. It was much too caught up in its insanity and horror to be consistently laugh-out-loud funny and enjoyable the full way through. It started off great and lasted quite a while, but then throughout a muddy half-an-hour in the middle it became much too serious. There was hardly a laugh in the house and it was losing my attention focusing on the generic horror-genre story before it whipped back into full action-movie gear and kicked some quality ass again.
As completely badass as the final gun-feuding fight is, the editing is horrible - it's too choppy and too jumpy. It reminded me of sitting too close to the screen during some horrible studio-generated genre flick where you can't even see what anyone is doing. Fortunately it was entertaining enough to keep me from getting sick, but I could not overcome the fact that his editing was terrible during this scene (and a few others). There are just too many issues with the story and editing for this film to live up to his first-time masterpiece, Shaun of the Dead.
Hot Fuzz is Edgar Wright's parodic remake of Bad Boys II with a unique horror-cult twist and more "badass" moments. If you can look past the editing troubles and get through the serious scenes in the middle, you'll find a fun and intense murder mystery cop flick with awesome action scenes and unforgettable comedy. It's no Shaun of the Dead unfortunately, but it is everything that Wright, Pegg, and Frost do best.