Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

'Hot Fuzz' is greatest buddy cop spoof?

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Timothy Dalton, and Jim Broadbent
Director: Edgar Wright
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

When London's top cop Nick Angel (Pegg) is promoted and transferred because his superiors feel he's making them look bad (with his 400%-above-average arrest record), he finds himself in a village so peaceful that the police officers in the village spend their days eating cake and ice cream, and he is teamed with a young constable (Frost) whose idea of police work is shaped by American movies, such as "Bad Boys II". But when a hooded serial killer starts picking off some of the village's leading citizens, it seems Angel may still have a chance to do some real crime-fighting and police work. But will his fellow officers believe that it's the work of a killer and not just a series of freak accidents being inflated by a cop who is too highly strung for village life?

"Hot Fuzz" is probably the best comedy that will be released in 2007. I don't like to make that sort of hyperbolic declaration, but in this case, I think it'll be true. It's not only a hilarious spoof, but its script is so well done that it even works as a crime drama.

Like "Shaun of the Dead"--a film from the same team that made this film--"Hot Fuzz" takes the standards of a popular movie genre-in this case, the buddy cop drama-and gives them a distinctly British twist. This film is somewhat more farcical than "Shaun of the Dead" as it pokes a lot more fun at the quirks and cliches of buddy cop action films, but it still transmit an obvious affection for the genre on the part of the writers. In fact, if more police dramas and thrillers (buddy cop or otherwise) had scripts as well-crafted as this one, there would be fewer box office bombs.

The very best aspect of this film is that it's as realistic as movies of this sort get. Although there are points in the film where it seems like the film abandons realism for comedic affect-such as a scene where Sgt. Angel is chasing the hooded murderer, who seems to miraculously gain 20 yards over him every time he disappears around corner (because if Angel catches the killer at this point in the film, things will be over an hour in)--when it comes to the crimes that are going on is that everything makes sense when the truth comes to light. Even parts of the movie that just seemed like odd bits of comedy suddenly make perfect sense when all the twists and Big Reveals have been unveiled.

Another strong point of the film is the fact that the screenwriters truly wrote a mystery tale where they follow all the conventions of the genre. They lay out all the clues as to what is going on in the town AND they follow the old saw horse that if there's a gun over the fireplace in the first act, it better be fired by the third. (There are multiple of these guns in the movie--both metaphorical and actual--and every one of them is "fired", some of them in quite unexpected ways.)

While hardcore fans of the over-the-top cop dramas this film pokes fun at will probably find the first half of it too slow to be entertaining, those who appreciate British humor or British cop shows like "A Touch of Frost" or "Prime Suspect" should love this film.

Those who just enjoy crime dramas and suspense movies in general should also get a kick out of "Hot Fuzz", because the twists upon twists that are offered up here are more creative and clever than what is found in many serious attempts at the genre.

This is one of those rare "must-see" movies, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

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