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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

REVIEW - "Hot Fuzz" (2007)

Often when I see comedies I have to be with friends or family in order to enjoy it fully. Their laughing infects me and often helps me find what is happening on screen even funnier. As I sat alone through “Hot Fuzz” I realized I was laughing a lot harder than I normally do on my own. Perhaps the fact it’s spoofing off of a genre I grew up with made it that much more intense. Or perhaps the writing was just that genius. Whatever the case, “Hot Fuzz” is one of the most enjoyable films I’ve sat through since the “Evil Dead” trilogy—And that’s saying a great deal.

Writer and star Simon Pegg plays Nicholas Angle, a London police officer with such high honors, skill and brains, his colleagues decide to ship him to the country where he can stop making everyone else look bad. There he finds an incompetent partner, Danny Butterman, who is obsessed with buddy cop movies like “Bad Boys 2” and “Point Break” and wishes he could “fire two guns whilst flying through the air.” (Although Angle denies he’s ever done that and admits his distaste for firearms.)

The town he’s shipped to has a very low crime rate and is possibly one of the friendliest towns in existence. Of course, not everything is what it seems and when “accidents” begin happening all over the small country town Angle goes in to action. This, of course, leads to a spectacular finale, spoofing off action movies in the funniest and yet most respectful way possible.

It occurs to me that writer Simon Pigg and director Edgar Wright are huge fans of the action genre, but also understand how absurd it is. Yes, Angle and Butterman end up flying through the air with two guns in their hands blazing. Yes, a spectacular gunfight ensues with our heroes hitting every mark they can, but the villain(s) missing them at close range with machine guns. Yes, a car flies through the air and remains flying, ever so dramatically, for what seems like minutes.

These throwbacks at the action genre seem rather subtle, but when it’s talked about so much throughout the movie, it’s just that much funnier when executed! Even the one-liners get a lot of exposure. “I feel like I should say something smart.” Angle says after a tough battle and a helicopter flies over them in slow motion to signify everything’s ok. As if the Calvary has arrived.

As one could probably tell, the chemistry between these two characters "is off the chain!" Danny wants to be an action hero and Angle doesn’t believe anyone like that exists. So the entire movie is basically building these two hysterical characters up to be badass action heroes. Timothy Dalton, who plays a cheesy store manager, almost steals the show, but he’s kept off screen long enough for the audience to focus on the heroes. Though when he’s on screen he’s a treat!

The only drawback to film seems to be the gratuitous gore that pops up now and then. For a movie that’s far more enjoyable than “Grindhouse”, I can’t stress this enough—This is not “Grindhouse”! It just seemed funny one or two times and pointless the rest of the time. I suppose I should’ve expected nothing less from the creators of “Shaun of the Dead” though.

Ultimately, gore is not enough to hurt your enjoyment. Once someone’s head explodes you forget about it immediately and remember the absurdity of the situation. You might just find yourself smiling for no reason simply because the whole movie is out of whack—Almost like it tries to take itself seriously in order to be funnier. In the end you remember why action movies can be enjoyable and wish you could kick ass like Angle. This will probably remain one of the most enjoyable movies of the year!

***½ out of ****

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