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April 2007


By Julian Roman


Distributor: Rogue Pictures (Focus Features)
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenwriters: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Steve Coogan, Timothy Dalton, Martin Freeman, Paul Freeman, Bill Nighy, Lucy Punch, Anne Reid, Billie Whitelaw, Stuart Wilson, Edward Woodward
Rating: R (for violent content including some graphic images, and language)


British comedians Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright hit box office gold in 2004 with their hilarious zombie flick satire, “Shaun of the Dead”. The pair avoids the sophomore slump with an equally clever satire of American cop films. “Hot Fuzz” is the story of uber-policeman, Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Pegg). He’s a by the book, no nonsense cop who single handedly brings down the crime rate in all of London; much to the chagrin of his fellow cops. He’s too good a cop and has essentially embarrassed the entire police force. Angel is shipped off by his superiors to the quiet and crime-free village of Sanford; where he’s paired with the police chief’s bumbling son, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). But Sanford is not the idyllic paradise it seems to be. The death of a local actor and his mistress spurs a series of suspicious deaths. Angel knows there’s a murderer on the loose, but can’t convince the locals that a threat exists. It’s only when Danny steps in with videos of “Bad Boys”, “Point Break”, and “Lethal Weapon”, does Angel realize he has to raise his cop game to solve the brutal crimes.

The brilliance of this film lies in how the generic American buddy-cop storyline is transposed to fit a sleepy English town. Included are the stereotypical characters you’ve come to expect from the genre. Supercop Angel and his goofy sidekick have the usual suspects and adversaries to deal with: the ruthless businessman, his ogre-like henchman, the corrupt lawyer, the ball-busting coworkers, it’s all there. They also copy the filmmaking styles of the genre. Michael Bay (“Bad Boys”) and Richard Donner (“Lethal Weapon”) could get a screen credit for the shots Edgar Wright (the director) uses to drum in the satire. Wright packs “Hot Fuzz” with ridiculous action scenes and perfectly placed one-liners to sum up the carnage.

My main critique of “Hot Fuzz” is the overemphasis on gore. The film is shockingly bloody and gruesome. I understand that Pegg and Wright are doing a satire of violent cop films; but they take it way too far here. People are impaled, decapitated, split open; it’s like you’re watching a horror film. “Shaun of the Dead”, their previous zombie film, isn’t nearly as violent as “Hot Fuzz”. This is the only reason why “Hot Fuzz” gets an R-rating. They could have easily gotten a PG-13, and a much wider audience, if they toned down the gore.

British comedy is often deadpan and not as over-the-top as American comedy. Don’t see “Hot Fuzz” if you’re expecting a “Scary Movie”-like satire. This film doesn’t rely on cheap gags or fart jokes for its humor. “Hot Fuzz” is what you expect from a good satire, a lot of laughs, smart writing, and a cast talented enough to deliver the goods.