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Judge Judy and Executioner!
Hot Fuzz (Special Edition, 2 DVDs)
Member Name: steerpyke
Hot Fuzz (Special Edition, 2 DVDs)
Advantages: another slice of fried gold from the golden boys of British comedy
Disadvantages: not as immediate as Shaun of the Dead
Simon Pegg is a self-confessed film geek. His knowledge of movies, particularly comedy, is vast and it is his understanding of the field that he works in that seems to make him successful. Pegg, along with co-writer Edgar Wright, were the people responsible for Shaun of the Dead, and there is much in common with these two films. Shaun of the Dead was at once a tribute and a parody of the whole Romero-esque zombie genre, bringing the usually over the top style of horror to a small, very British corner of London. Whilst Hollywood seems to be in an ever upward spiral to out do the last offering with bigger budgets, more impressive effects and grander settings, Pegg's approach was the natural response of a small time comedy actor from Bristol, that of smaller is better. It was this everyday quality of the film that made it so endearing.
Hot Fuzz is also a parody and a tribute, this time to the cop-buddy movie, but it is cleverer than that as well. It manages to pay homage to, not only its chosen subject, but to a whole range of films and styles. Westerns and horror are the obvious ones, and particularly The Wicker Man, with Edward Woodward brilliantly cast as if to reinforce the underlying joke. But if you are looking for a Lethal Weapon or Point Break, then you have come to the wrong place. As with the previous film where our hero fends off zombie hordes with a cricket bat, here again it is the very down to earth Britishness that makes it work. If you swap L.A. for rural Gloucestershire and throw in the standard cultural icons such as hoodie wearing youths, village fetes, quintessential British pubs, the drinking culture and other "country ways" and you get a film that plays out like Bad Boyz II but looks like Midsomer Murders.
The plot is straightforward; Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, the hottest officer in the Metropolitan Police, transferred by jealous superiors to a sleepy West Country village. This should be an easy assignment, but very soon he is knee deep in murder and underhand activities that only he seems to be aware of. Nick Frost is again his slob like sidekick, playing Danny, a role similar to his Shaun of the Dead character, and again the dynamic of the pairing is brilliant. Danny, an action movie junkie, sees Nick as the real life bad boy from the big city and the pairing of the two as his chance to experience real policing. Nicks frustration with his puppy like partner only adds to the fun. The cast list is also a role call of British comedy greats as well as a few more serious actors, Timothy Dalton as the sleazy supermarket owner is a gem. Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge), Martin Freeman (the Office), Kevin Eldon (Big Train) Bill Bailey (Black Books) and Bill Nighy (Shaun of the Dead) all have brilliant cameos, but throw in the aforementioned Dalton, Woodward as will as Jim Broadbent, Anne Reid and Billie Whitelaw and you can see that Pegg has got to a point where he has no shortage of names wanting to work with him.
I often wonder if the humour will travel well, the jokes being so carved from a very British template, but then Shaun of the Dead went down a storm in America and I hope that this does as well. But aside from the cultural references that may hinder this film into being a bit too provincial within the bigger scheme of things, there are some moments of sheer brilliance that need no translating. The closing sequence is a shootout in the village, where the vicar is "tooled up" the local publicans prove to be very handy with a shotgun and there is a brilliant set piece in a supermarket, Summerfield's no less, that plays out like Nerina Pallots video for "Everybody's Gone to War" There are also the usual series of great lines, as when sidekick Danny delivers the immortal "Judge Judy and executioner" and there's even a chance to reference Shaun of the Dead "what's the matter Danny, never taken a short cut before"
So the question that everyone is asking is "is it as funny as Shaun of the Dead?" To be honest it probably isn't as immediately addictive as the previous work, but like its predecessor it is cleverer than most comedies, is a film that will get funnier with every re-run and works so well because of its effortless charm. It also works because it is a parody made by people that obviously know and love their subject. They manage to recreate some of the greatest scenes from the genre and play them for the biggest laughs and I kid you not when I tell you that Simon Pegg is destined to be seen as the new Hugh Grant, only Pegg has the benefit of actually being a good actor.
Summary: a brilliant spoof of american buddy-cop movies set in the cotswolds!