By Tyler Davidson
By Tyler Davidson
2004’s “Shaun of the Dead” seems impossible to live up to. A thrilling blend of hilarious dialogue, gruesome zombie violence, and romantic overtones come together to create a cult classic in every sense of the word.
Fast forward three years, and director Edgar Wright is at it again, this time with the action comedy, “Hot Fuzz,” in which a sergeant in the London Police, Nicholas Angel (star and co-writer Simon Pegg), finds himself on the receiving end of an unwanted transfer after his astounding accomplishments do nothing but make his teammates look incompetent.
Transferred to a quaint country village named Sandford, Angel grows increasingly frustrated not only at the lack of action in Sandford, but also the unenthusiastic approach that the police force (or “service,” as Angel explains “force” is too aggressive a term) takes when dealing with an actual crime. At this point, a series of “accidents” begin to happen to different townsfolk, and it is up to Angel and Police Constable Danny Butterworth (Pegg’s “Shaun of the Dead” co-star, Nick Frost) to blow the lid off of the situation, for the betterment of the city.
For a movie largely being pushed as an action vehicle, “Hot Fuzz” is off the charts hilarious. From subtle jokes that won’t sink in until a scene or two later, to the painfully blunt (like a scene in which Pegg delivers a flying kick straight to the face of an elderly woman), the jokes serve their purpose, giving much-needed comic relief to those on-screen, while not being overly pushy or trying to take control of the punch line.
Where the film delivers in laughs, it delivers almost double in the action contained between the credits. Filled with action movie clichÃ©s like gunfights, explosions, and bad-ass one-liners, the movie pays a clear homage to action blockbusters like “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon.”
The picture also deals out a pleasant surprise in its gem of a story. Realistic enough to emotionally invest in, yet outlandish enough to make for a good popcorn flick, the plot takes slight twists and turns without venturing into the “shocking twist” realm so recently inhabited by films like “The Departed.” Scenes can’t be called from miles away like in most action movies of this generation, and exposition is used ever-so-precisely in order to introduce characters like Simon Skinner, the smarmy supermarket owner played by Timothy Dalton who goes on to become the prime suspect in the story.
Wright’s trademark visual style has its hands all over “Hot Fuzz.” Fans of “Shaun of the Dead” will recognize tricks like its frequent cutaways and frantic, rapid-fire montages of shots used for things as simple as using the toilet or filling up a coffee cup. It is this unique style that keeps the audience’s adrenaline pumping even through dialogue-heavy scenes, the kind of style that makes them literally lean into the next scene.
“Hot Fuzz” is just as much a crossover hit as “Shaun of the Dead” was just three short years ago. Where “Shaun of the Dead” was what Wright liked to refer to as a romzomcom (short for romantic zombie comedy), seamlessly blending the styles of horror, action, and comedy, so is “Hot Fuzz” a successful collaboration of comedy and action. The comedic scenes will have audiences rolling on the floor, while the action scenes will put anyone on the edge of their seat.
With “Hot Fuzz,” Wright (as well as stars Pegg and Frost) drives home just how close his finger is to the pulse of the fan boy scene. While he may not be headed for an Oscar any time soon, Wright undoubtedly has any number of cult classics floating around in his head just waiting to be quoted by die-hard fans for years to come.