Starring – Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon, Olivia Colman, Edward Woodward, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Stephen Merchant, Adam Buxton, Lucy Punch (phew)
Having already assessed the many benefits of Shaun of the Dead, it’s time for me to look at the second part of Wright/Pegg’s Three Flavours Cornetto, Hot Fuzz.
Coming three years after SotD, this comedic tale of big city cop meets small town life once again stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the main characters, and is also directed by long-time collaborator, Edgar Wright.
The story centres on policeman extraordinaire Nicholas Angel (Pegg), whose arrest statistics are so impressive, that the rest of his department in London get intimidated and ship him off to Sandford, Gloucestershire; a quaint little village which has won Village of the Year for many years.
Whilst there, and struggling to cope with the almost-too-quiet environment, Angel befriends local ‘bobby’ Danny Butterman (Frost), an awestruck policeman who wishes he could be the same type of ‘copper’ as Angel. He also happens to be the son of Chief Inspector Frank Butterman (Broadbent), who herds his flock with a cheery disposition.
When residents of the village start suspiciously dying, Angel’s spider sense, honed by working in London for so many years, starts to tingle and he suspects foul play. Thwarted at every angle, he is presented with an uphill struggle to first convince his fellow constables (all of whom dislike him for his perceived snobbery of their backward town) that the string of deaths are connected murders, and then to find the culprit.
Having already come out as a self-confessed Pegg-o-phile (I said Pegg!), it may come as no surprise that I love Hot Fuzz. Whilst his work on Spaced with Wright is quite possibly my favourite piece of work he has done, Hot Fuzz is without doubt the best movie of his career so far, and indeed the funniest.
There is a common conception that “silly” comedy is easy to do, and whilst that may be true to some degree (Post-2004 Adam Sandler, I am talking to you) Pegg and Wright have somehow managed to create a humour which blends both stupidity and sharp writing. Gags like Danny getting brain freeze, or being hit by a flying bin shouldn’t work in this day and age, and yet they are timed to absolute perfection.
Due to the setting in a village where everyone knows everybody else (and are all quite possibly related), it is no surprise that the cast is quite large. Whilst there are a handful of characters who play large parts in the story, there are quite possibly another 30 who have some small, but integral, part to play. Not only is there a huge number of faces, but alot of them are recognisable as Britain’s finest actors and comedy performers. I won’t rattle them all off again, but above you can see some of the names involved (and there are ALOT more I didn’t list!)
The acting is again great. Pegg and Frost are their usual charming selves, having honed their comedy stylings to a T, but special praise should go to Dalton, Considine and Broadbent. None of these could be considered as comedy actors (although Broadbent does dabble from time to time) and yet they embody their roles so perfectly.
Much maligned ex-Bond, Timothy Dalton is not someone you would expect in a film of this nature, but his turn as creepy shop owner Simon Skinner represents an inspired casting choice. His one-liners and manipulative behaviour are delivered so well, with a smile on his face and deception in his eyes.
Broadbent as the happy, fatherly and helpful Chief Inspector also makes for a great watch, providing an almost polar opposite of the cynical Nicholas Angel, whilst Considine (in tandem with Spall) plays the angsty CDI detective always trying to bring Angel down a pegg (geddit?) or two. Anyone who has seen Considine in Dead Man’s Shoes will know that this is a miraculous departure from his usual intense self.
Edgar Wright should also be given huge props for his directing. Not only am I a fan of his comedy work, but as a director he has his own unique style that he is entirely comfortable with. A fan of using screen sweeps and short, punchy scenes, Wright has managed to get a foot in the door in Hollywood, with his underrated Scott Pilgrim vs The World, whilst he has been handed the role of directing Ant-Man for Marvel. Hot Fuzz uses all of his favourite trickery and is visually more impressive than most of it’s comedy peers.
If you like Pegg and haven’t seen this, be ashamed of yourself. It is arguably the pinnacle of his career so far, only just beating Shaun of the Dead (with appropriate force).
Rating – 4.5 out of 5
Did you know? As with all Pegg films, Hot Fuzz contains numerous cameos, but none more mysterious than Peter Jackson as Santa Claus, or Cate Blanchett as ex-girlfriend Jenny.
Did you know? (Part II) When Danny is looking in the bargain bucket of DVDs, you can clearly see the Shaun of the Dead DVD cover, although the film is renamed as “Zombie Train”