It seems that it takes foreigners to re-invigorate the sad-sack American parody film, and then make it decidedly British. Makers of the Movie movies take heed: as long as there are Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright–the people who brought us the brilliant zombie romantic-comedy Shaun of the Dead–your soulless, money-grubbing, laugh-free fare looks all the more tawdry and superfluous. Before you hastily make another horrible movie with the Wayans in bad make-up, why not make like the Brits and actually put some thought into it?
Pegg and Wright prove that parodies needn’t be formless and devoid of plot with their latest, the action/buddy-cop movie parody, Hot Fuzz. While the movie is extremely entertaining in the usual ways (violence, special effects, physical comedy) it doesn’t render these devices pointless, and ties them down to a well-plotted, gripping thriller. In fact, the story is so brilliantly paced that it actually makes drop-kicking an old lady in the face seem not as gratuitous as it might be somewhere else.
Introducing us to the perfect cop, Nicholas Angel (Pegg), in a montage of his past superheroism, the film starts out deceptively light. Eventually, Angel is re-assigned to Sandford, a little town that happens to be in the running for “best little town” in England for two years in a row. He believes he is doomed to spend his days chasing after the missing town swan and settling disputes between neighbours over trimming hedgerows with his bumbling, overweight sidekick and action-movie devotee, PC Butterman (Nick Frost). That is, until he discovers that the town of Sandford has more of an insidious underbelly than can possibly be imagined. If you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead, take its level of gore, its incredulity, and add to that a crazy arsenal of Kalashnikovs, car chases and blood-thirsty Agatha Christie septuagenarians, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Hot Fuzz is all about.
Hot Fuzz also pulls off the standard parody tropes better than most. The homoerotic buddy cop relationship is extremely natural, recalling Office-level uncomforatble humour. There’s also a necessary compliment of celebrity cameosÂ–a must in these kinds of movies–that includes English heavy-hitters like Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Timothy Dalton and Cate Blanchett. Fans of Shaun of the Dead will also delight in the plethora of Pegg-Wright recurring bits, notably their proclivity for destroying fences and an endearing reliance on the pub as a narrative device.
A hilarious, intelligent movie filled with classic one-liners and a grand level of violence, Hot Fuzz is a masterpiece of a parody–one that actually entertains people rather than fellates the egos of its overrated creators.