Saturday, June 28, 2014

Movie #259: Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz is an action/comedy directed Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, and Timothy Dalton. It's the second in the "Three Flavors Cornetto" trilogy (between Shaun of the Dead and The World's End), and spoofs all of the high-action cop buddy flicks in existence.

Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is the best cop in London. He's absolutely dedicated to the job, and is superb not just at the application of the law, but in building trust in the community. This zeal gets him promoted to sergeant but shipped way the hell out to the country by his superiors (cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy) to the village of Sanford, a peaceful, idyllic, boring little town. Angel arrives and promptly arrests a bunch of underage drinkers and a drunk driver who turns out to be his partner, Constable Butterman (Frost) and son of the local inspector, Frank (Broadbent).

Angel attempts to settle in, but his skills are wasted chasing shoplifters and pulling over speeders. He meets the NWA (Neighborhood Watch Alliance), headed by Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward) and staffed by most of the important citizens, including the incredibly pushy and creepy owner of the local supermarket, Simon Skinner (Dalton).

When two people die in a supposed car crash, Angel recognizes right away that something is wrong, but the local cops don't want to hear it - accidents happen all the time. But the web of murder keeps going, and eventually Angel uncovers that the NWA is a cult headed by Butterman that murders anyone who threatens Sanford's perfection. Angel, horrified, starts to head back to London, but stops along the way, grabs some shades, raids the police station armory (fully stocked with guns that an old farmer "found" - this is never fully explained, but the implication is that they belong to the NWA), and goes to war. No one dies, but lots of bullets fly, and eventually Angel stays in Sanford with Danny as his partner.

Like Wright's other films, the attention to detail in this movie is amazing, and the way the second half mirrors the first, the way characters are encountered in the same order, and the snappy-ness of the dialog are incredible. Which makes it all the more weird when we get obvious mistakes like Danny's ice cream mysteriously changing sizes and levels of eaten-ness, and the fence that Frank crashes through suddenly repairing itself.

For all that, the movie is really well done, and like Shaun of the Dead, spoofs a genre while still creating relatable characters and a story that pulls the viewer in, rather than just being a series of jokes and references strung together. The violence is a little jarring (Adam Buxton's death by falling church bit is especially memorable), but that just serves to offset the fact that during the end confrontations, no one dies and it all plays out like a cop movie. Which, I suspect, was the point.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: House of Flying Daggers