Fuzz Hard: With A Vengeance

Posted in film by deflowerd on January 6, 2008

Or OzBuzz Does Hot Fuzz

Tonight I’ll be reviewing one of my favourite films of recent times, Hot Fuzz. This brilliant, layered comedy comes from the writing team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (who also stars), the duo who brought us Shaun Of The Dead. Wright directs Fuzz, as he did SOTD and the sitcom Spaced which also starred Pegg & Nick Frost. Frost is in Fuzz, too. Basically we’ve got a bit of a boys club of British comedy (Jessica Stevenson co-wrote Spaced, and had a cameo in SOTD, but is absent in Fuzz).

HF tells the story of a talented, motivated, hard-line and, most importantly, overachieving policeman officer called Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), who is transferred to the country town of Sandford by his superiors, who feel that he is making everyone else look bad by comparison.

He is met by a bunch of bumbling bumpkins, whose laid back attitude does not particularly sit well with Angel. As he tries to settle in, a series of gruesome accidents spark his inquisitive mind into action.

I have to say straight off the bat that the cast are amazing. Rafe Spall, who had a bit part in SOTD, is hilarious as one of the two detectives in Sandford. Both of the town’s detectives are named Andy, a joke written into the script after the writing team found that a strangely high number of policeman are named Andy and, appropriately, Nick. The other Andy, played by Paddy Considine, is similarly funny.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are great again, moving up from playing versions of themselves in SOTD to portraying believable characters here in HF. The towns Neighborhood Watch Association is made up of great British actors, featuring the likes of Edward Woodward (star of the eerie The Wicker Man), Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman, and Billie Whitelaw.

The Sandford Police Force is made up of the two Andys, Nick Frost as Danny Butterman, Jim Broadbent as Frank Butterman (Danny’s father), Olivia Colman as the village bicycle PC Doris Thatcher, and Big Train’s Kevin Eldon as Sergeant Tony Fisher. They all have their own distinct, hilarious & provincial characteristics and traits, and they are all fantastic. They may slightly tend towards being caricatures, but in a comedic film that relies as much on the subtext as the supertext(?) I think this is allowable.

While the performances and the plot make for a greatly enjoyable film when taken at face value, repeated viewings reveal a wealth of subtext, references to other films, and various other bits and bobs of delightful/insightful movie trivia. I think that’s what makes this such a favourite of mine; Pegg and Wright reward other movie-geeks for their movie-geekism. I revel in the fact that the acronym of the Neighborhood Watch Association is NWA, and that Danny refers to what they do as ‘rapping people on the knuckles.’

It just shows how much the filmmakers love the medium of cinema, and it makes me appreciate their work so much more. It’s also why so many people love SOTD and Spaced; Wright, Pegg and Co. aren’t poking fun, they’re paying homage.

While I’m at it, I might pay homage to a few of my favourite parts of the film:

  • Timothy Dalton is cartoon-fox-esque and as smooth as silk, making for a perfectly charming Bad Guy™.
  • Cameos by Bill Bailey, Stephen Merchant, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy. I mean, seriously. Does it get any better? All it needed was Dylan Moran as an Irish drifter and I’d be having a movie-gasm.
  • Diving through the air while firing two guns at once.
  • Tony Scott-style paperwork montages.
  • A Harry Potter visual gag.

That is just scratching the surface of a deceptively deep movie experience. I can’t recommend this enough, but don’t just watch it once. Watch it three times and then tell me how much you love it. It has surface-level jokes, odd provincial characters, well-known archetypal story arcs, and a weird & entertaining plot. It also pays homage to just about every mainstream action film ever made. The humour comes from placing conventionally reserved Brits into an unconventional story as much as it comes from visual and verbal gags and references to other films. I really like it.



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