So, the keen eyed amongst you will realise that last week I missed my TBT post for the first time in absolutely ages. The reason? I couldn’t think of anything to write about and I didn’t want to write anything shit just for the sake of it. This schedule has been really good for me in terms of planning and time keeping but there are times when the rigidity just doesn’t give me any room to breathe. So I decided to skip a week. In fact, I’ve been pondering getting rid of the whole thing entirely. I mean who really wants to read my review of a film that has been out for so long that pretty much everyone has had their say about it? Especially whilst I desperately try and tie it into my other posts that week. So we’ll see how long this goes on for. Until then I’ve actually got a topic for this week so I’ll get on with it.
On Tuesday I once again bemoaned the state of Simon Pegg’s career and his ability to agree to appear in any old shit. This, in itself, isn’t too big a problem because the man has to work. I get that. I’ve worked for in a job that hasn’t ever really given me any professional enjoyment. I understand the woe of having to sell your soul in exchange for a pay check. The thing that makes Pegg’s back catalogue so hard to bear is the fact that he’s been responsible for some of the greatest British films over the past twenty years. His Cornetto trilogy, written with Edgar Wright, are incredibly popular and are the perfect big screen follow-ups to sitcom Spaced.
Arguably, it is Hot Fuzz, the middle film, that is the best. Pegg and Wright wanted to explore the idea of a British version of the Hollywood buddy cop genre and they managed to create a film that was almost perfect. Pegg plays Nicholas Angel London’s top cop who is sent to a sleepy village of Sanford after he starts making the rest of London’s police look incompetent. He partners up with naive Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and the pair uncover a mysterious plot that is leading to the deaths of some of village’s most prominent residents. Danny gets his first real glimpse of police work whilst Nicholas learns to ditch the rule book and embrace the kind of theatrics seen in most action movies.
At the heart of the village is the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance who go to great lengths to keep the peace and ensure the village remains picture perfect. However, Nicholas starts to suspect that one of its members, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), is responsible for the deaths to cover up a secret property deal. Nicholas must use every trick in the book to convince his boss Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) that he’s telling the truth and get the rest of the village’s inept force to help him track down the killer.
Hot Fuzz does great things with its location and the tropes traditionally found in big budget cop movies. It references several of Hollywood’s biggest action films and plays with the genre amongst the sleepy British setting. It offers both a satirical glimpse and a charming celebration of all things action and gives it a delightfully fresh British twist. I mean I can’t imagine Bruce Willis taking part in a high speed chase whilst having a lost swan in his possession, can you? The end result is biting, incredibly funny and hugely entertaining.
Thanks is no small part to the chemistry between Pegg and Frost. The pair have, as we all know, been friends for years and this is never more evident than this film. They are so utterly comfortable with each other that they don’t mind letting the other dominate when need be. They have a great understanding of how they work together and how they can make something funny. Their relationship on screen here is much more convincing than in Shaun of the Dead and is more heartfelt than in the dire At World’s End. This is vintange Frost/Pegg bromance and it’s great to watch.
Hot Fuzz boasts an incredible British cast including several drool worthy names. Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton stand out amongst the crowd and are joined by the equally captivating Edward Woodward, Paul Freeman and Billie Whitelaw to name but a few. The talent on show is fantastic and they all work with the material wonderfully. My only gripe with Hot Fuzz, if I had to admit to one, is that it’s a little self-indulgent. Something only highlighted by its cast. It allows itself a bit too much room for error and ends up missing a few of its marks. There are jokes a plenty and, inevitably, not all of them land in quite the right way. Still, it barely matters. No matter how many times I watch this film I still feel as elated and satisfied as the first time.