January 30, 2008

Mini-review: Hot Fuzz

(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. Click here for the full list.)

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz (movie; 2007)
Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
Directed by Edgar Wright

So first, let's make something perfectly clear: that Hot Fuzz is not a goofy buddy comedy about two small-town-cop dreamers who have seen one too many action thrillers, like it was marketed here in the US, which is why I avoided seeing it for so long, in that I hardly ever watch police action thrillers myself, and thus a parody of the genre would be wasted on me. No, instead this second feature from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (the team behind the much-loved zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead) is about an actual badass supercop (played by Pegg himself -- Wright directed), who not only trained at all the elite military schools around London but excelled at them; he's so good at his job, in fact, that he's starting to make the other London cops look bad, which is why he's shipped off to a tiny little pastoral town in the Midland boonies instead, just to get him and his perfectionist ways out of the hair of everyone in the big city.

This then makes Hot Fuzz a very different thing indeed from what I was expecting, a much better thing than what I was expecting: a sincerely hilarious clash between this legitimate supercop and the Andy-Griffith-channeling bumblers in this provincial town where almost nothing of note ever happens. And indeed, from the dim-witted deputy who often sleeps off benders in a back cell to the winking looking in the other direction at various locals' harmless infractions, much of this movie's humor derives from the same old-fashioned place that the 50-year-old Andy Griffith Show does, of an unfeeling hardass who gradually learns to understand life in a fuller and more pleasant way, precisely by being around a group of small-town folk who simply will never be superlative at their jobs, no matter what those jobs are.

When the officer finally does start rallying the local troops together, then, in light of a legitimate criminal matter they have accidentally stumbled across, it makes sense for the bumbling deputy in a moment of bonding to share with the officer the police action thrillers he so loves, and for the duo to then start mimicking in real life the cinematic action scenes they've just seen; and that's because you don't need to be familiar with the original scenes they're mimicking in order to enjoy it, but rather appreciate the natural humor that comes from the situation itself. That's the difference between such smart comedies by a team like Wright and Pegg versus the unbearable horsesh-t from a team like Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie...my God, the horsesh-t just never ends with them); that the former duo find humor from the situations themselves that they're parodying, from the core artistic ideas of character, plot and style, while the endless dreck of Friedberg and Seltzer is simply a momentary acknowledgment of that year's popular culture, a slideshow of greatest hits that contains no humor in itself, but is rather designed for fast and easy digestion by ADD-addled teens at a suburban mall on a Friday night. That's why I'll always take the more sophisticated lowbrow humor of a Wright and Pegg over the cinematic Pepto-Bismol of a Friedberg and Seltzer, and why I also think it's such a shame that Hot Fuzz was promoted the same way here as Meet the Spartans currently is. It's a much better movie than that, and deserved a better promotional campaign.

Out of 10: 9.2

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:34 AM, January 30, 2008. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |