HOT FUZZ – David Arnold
Original Review by Clark Douglas
It has been said that the best way to criticize a movie is to make a better movie. If that is true, and I have an inclination to believe that it is, then director Edgar Wright is a pretty good film critic. Much like Quentin Tarantino, Wright seems to have a gift for paying homage to a film genre while simultaneously transcending it. Unlike Tarantino, Wright also gleefully bites the hand that feeds him, and surprisingly, his movies are all the better for it. In his 2004 feature, “Shaun of the Dead”, he made a rather funny zombie movie that had a good time exploiting the conventions of zombie movies, not to mention the conventions of British behavior. His latest film, “Hot Fuzz”, centers it’s attention on action movies, particularly buddy cop action movies, and even more particularly buddy cop action movies directed by Michael Bay.
“Shaun of the Dead” co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are joined up once again to delightful effect. Pegg plays police officer Nicolas Angel, an incredibly hard-working law enforcement agent who is putting the rest of the London Police Force to shame. Which is why one of Angel’s superiors (Bill Nighy) decides that Angel must be promoted and sent to another city, because, as Nighy so tactfully puts it, “you’re making us all look bad.” Whiz, bang, pop, and suddenly Angel is stuck in the quiet little town of Sandford, the city with the lowest crime rate in England. His assignments there would embarrass Barney Fife, as he is forced to chase geese and stop people from trimming hedge rows that don’t belong to them.
Frost plays Angel’s partner, Danny. Danny is a friendly, well-meaning fellow who seems absolutely thrilled by the idea of being partnered with a cop who has actually seen real-life action. Danny’s knowledge of how to deal with crimes comes exclusively from his vast DVD collection of action films, but that is not such a bad thing, especially for the viewing audience. Of course Angel is often quite frustrated with Danny’s relative incompetence as a police officer, and together Frost and Pegg make some clever little jabs at the subtle homoerotic undertones of many macho action pictures.
There’s plenty of comedy, yes, but action fans will be pleased to discover that the high-octane thrills are in full force here, particularly during the almost surreal final half hour. During these last thirty minutes, the film kicks into high gear, simultaneously spoofing and matching the cheap, hyper-edited thrills of modern action films. It’s quite difficult to have your cake and eat it, too, and most movies simply shouldn’t try such a risky thing, but “Hot Fuzz” pulls it off so well, I wanted to applaud. In fact, the film takes a number of risks… for one thing, it runs two hours long, not a good idea for most comedies. Somehow, “Hot Fuzz” manages to keep the comic momentum rolling from start to finish, and it all zips by with surprising speed.
Performances are wonderful all across the board. Pegg and Frost have fantastic chemistry together, and generate a lot of laughs while also creating surprisingly well-developed characters. A load of British character actors have a chance to ham it up, too. Jim Broadbent plays a remarkably friendly police chief (aptly named Frank Butterman), and Timothy Dalton plays one of the greasiest grocery store owners in cinematic history (aptly named Simon Skinner). There’s also amusing cameo roles for Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Cate Blanchett, and even Peter Jackson.
David Arnold steps up to provide the score for “Hot Fuzz”, and turns in an (I hope) intentionally ridiculous action effort. Arnold divides his time between riffing on ridiculous Media Venture/Remote Control musical clichés and his own equally ridiculous brand of European techno-pop action music. Truth be told, both of these genres can be fairly entertaining, but the score for “Hot Fuzz” plays on the least appealing elements of both. The music works rather well for the film’s needs, adding an extra layer of satire to the proceedings. Unfortunately, it’s often buried by a barrage of sound effects (as is the case in so many modern action movies). I don’t know how well it works on the soundtrack album (which includes a 23-minute suite), but as this is an “As Heard in the Film” review, I suppose I approve. The eclectic batch of songs come from such artists as Adam Ant, The Kinks, The Fratellis, Eels, John Eric Alexander, and many others. Song titles include “Lethal Fuzz”, “Here Come the Fuzz”, and “Caught by the Fuzz”. Very imaginative.
While “Hot Fuzz” certainly does seem to have a special dose of skewing reserved for Michael Bay films, “Point Break”, and a host of other action movies, it is by no means a hostile affair. It certainly gets it’s pulse from some of the same cinematic tricks other modern action films use. The difference is the sheer amount of sly satire and remarkably wit on hand, which is matched by just the right dose of goofy slapstick comedy. The film deserves a spot on your shelf next to the recent “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, and is by all means worth your hard-earned dollars at the movie theater. I’d go so far as to say that it’s superior to the entertaining “Shaun of the Dead”. It’s a delicious piece of entertainment, bound to please both those who love today’s action movies and those who hate them. Highly recommended, though gore-sensitive viewers should be aware that the violence, though often comic, is quite extreme.
- Goody Two Shoes (performed by Adam Ant) (3:34)
- Sgt. Rock (is Going to Help Me) (performed by XTC) (3:35)
- Village Green Preservation Society (performed by The Kinks) (2:56)
- Baby Fratelli (performed by The Fratellis) (3:53)
- Dance With The Devil (performed by Cozy Powell) (3:15)
- Slippery Rock 70’s (performed by Stavely Makepeace) (2:38)
- I Can’t Control Myself (performed by The Troggs) (3:02)
- Fire (performed by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) (2:47)
- Lethal Fuzz (Osymyso Remix) (performed by John Eric Alexander) (2:01)
- Souljacker Part 1 – Album Version (performed by Eels) (3:16)
- Caught By The Fuzz (performed by Supergrass) (2:16)
- Solid Gold Easy Action (performed by The Fratellis) (2:19)
- Here Come The Fuzz (performed by Jon Spencer and The Elegant Too) (3:52)
- The Hot Fuzz Suite (23:11)
Running Time: 63 minutes 18 seconds
Cherry Tree B0008766-02 (2007)
Music composed by David Arnold. Conducted and orchestrated by Nicholas Dodd. Recorded and mixed by Geoff Foster. Edited by Dina Eaton. Score produced by David Arnold.