The dual-review film criticism site: first a spoiler-free review, then an in-depth Alternate Take.
Hot Fuzz

Reviewed by Jim Holden.

Director Edger Wright
Length 121 mins
Certificate 15
Rating *******---
Filmmaking: 3  Personal enjoyment: 4

Photo from the article According to the pre-release hype, Hot Fuzz was to do for the action genre what Simon Pegg (actor/writer), Nick Frost (actor) and Edger Wright’s (writer/director) previous film, Shaun of the Dead, had done for the zombie film. Thankfully there is more to Hot Fuzz than just a parody/homage of all things action. In fact, until the final third, this film is barely an action movie; instead it is a comedy, a surreal horror, and a buddy movie - and a thoroughly good one at that. Ironically, it is when the action arrives that the film begins to feel forced: it should be a grand finale, but after one shootout and one false ending too many Hot Fuzz becomes repetitive and lacking direction. However, there are many wonderfully funny, and downright bizarre, moments that come before.

Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is a Police officer who loves his job; in fact he is the best Policeman in London. He has an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force, in fact he is so good at what he does that he is showing up the rest of Metropolitan Police. His superiors, eager to make the numbers look better, condemn him to the sleepy village of Sandford in Gloucestershire, where he will be promoted to Sergeant.

It is a simple set-up, and it is during this introduction, and the scenes during which village life operates at its state of odd normality, when the film is at its absolute best. The first hour in reality is just the set-up to the carnage that follows, but manages to eclipse the remainder of the film by being so charming. Somewhere between the introduction and the action-packed final third, the film turns into a subtle, surreal horror film, part Wicker Man (1973, confirmed by the pointed casting of Edward Woodard in a small role) and part League of Gentlemen. At this point the film is parodying English country life as much as anything else, and it does so with many witty asides - including a wry take on the current British scapegoat of ‘hoodie culture’.

For such a similar project, a comparison with Shaun of the Dead is inevitable, and the question ‘is it better?’ has already been raised by many critics. Shaun, to me, was not as good as it should have been; it lacked the tight writing that had made the team’s previous creation, Spaced, the warm, hilarious, cult show that it was. In fact neither of their subsequent features have had such clever character dilemmas, such inventive plot strands, or made being stuck in a mini mid-life crisis seem so appealing. Shaun occasionally attempted the emotional impact Spaced sometimes reached, often to the detriment of its comedy. Hot Fuzz, on the other hand, is focused on being delightfully silly throughout. It is perhaps the funniest thing that Wright and Pegg have created, and - although it lacks something of the substance of their previous work - it could also prove the most consistently entertaining.

Alternate Take to follow soon...

This review was published on March 02, 2007.

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