Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day Fifty-Six: Hot Fuzz (2007) - Rank 5/5


Hands down, this is one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time. I never caught it in theatres because of my reaction to Winter and Pegg's previous collaboration: "Shaun of the Dead." While I found the film enjoyable and moderately humorous, I never understood the hype behind it. As I watched it, I felt like I could see the two purposefully manipulating the film to make it the perfect formula - as if they created a checklist of every staple to be found in a horror/comedy/zombie flick and ticked items off as they generated the script. I didn't see it as any better or worse than its best American counterparts, the Evil Dead series (or Return of the Dead), I just felt like it didn't cover new ground.

"Hot Fuzz," on the other hand, I found to be highly unique, because on many levels, it never sets out to be a comedy at all. An overly-decorated Sargeant Angel (Simon Pegg) is sent to a small hamlet, nestled quietly in the middle of nowhere, is partnered with lummox Constable Butterman (Nick Frost)and comes near to dying of boredom when a string of "mysterious accidents" start arising. Winter and Pegg made one of the most self-indulgent action films I've ever seen (rivaling Tarantino's entire body of work for zany violence), and in doing so, their product became so over-the-top that it was nothing short of hilarious. They made mountains out of the trivial, raising a grocery store manager (Timothy Dalton in his best role since "The Rocketeer" to the level of a Bond villain in Angel's eyes), and legitimized judicious judo kicks to the faces of octogenarians. To better describe the exaggerated, action-based world in which they live, I will liken it to "Jack Slater IV" (the film within a film in "Last Action Hero" - a Schwartenegger flick that endeavored to be what "Hot Fuzz" is, but fell short)

Excess for the sake of excess almost always works, in my mind. Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" would be a prime example, as would Peter Jackson's "Dead Alive." Both director's started out small, but rose to great heights from their early works ("Hot Fuzz" being a tremendous leap forward from "Shaun of the Dead"). For that reason, I'm curious to see what the Winter/Pegg pair will churn out next.

Watch the Trailer

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