New York Magazine


Hot Fuzz
  Release Date: 04/20/07

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Steve Coogan

Director: Edgar Wright

Rating: (R)
  Comedy, Action/Adventure, Drama
  Running Time
  121 min
  Rogue Pictures/Focus Features
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In Shaun of the Dead (2004), Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg fused middle-class English suburban angst and zombie carnage. Some critics dubbed it a spoof of living-dead movies: a scandalous misreading. Wright and Pegg were aiming higher, using the living dead to spoof the English capacity for blotting out the bleeding obvious. I especially relished the hero's meek, dotty mother (Penelope Wilton), who neglects to tell her son about her bite from a highly contagious ghoul until she's about to transform into a ferocious zombie cannibal: "I didn't want to be a bother."

Now Wright and Pegg have collaborated on Hot Fuzz, in which a quaint olde English hamlet (clucking flower-shop lady, hearty vicar, etc.) becomes the setting for a splattery, over-the-top Jerry Bruckheimer-style buddy action picture. The hero, Nicholas Angel (Pegg), is a humorless law-and-order cop who's bounced out of London for making too many arrests. Although there's little to do in wee Sandford (a finalist for the title of England's most picturesque village), Angel begins to get a creepy, Wicker Man vibe. When the doddering old police chief (Jim Broadbent) shrugs off a series of beheadings, squashings, and impalings ("Accidents!"), the cop decides to take the law into his own hands. It's lucky the fat drunken constable (Nick Frost, Pegg's Shaun of the Dead sidekick) has a handy DVD of Bad Boys II to demonstrate how these things should be done.

The English have a wellspring of comedy that will never be exhausted: the combination of bestial urges and excellent manners. Tweedy pensioners suddenly wield massive artillery—and, as in Shaun, the mayhem is shockingly graphic, which helps to keep the slapstick from getting too comfy. The climax lampoons the work of overfunded action auteurs while still delivering the goods. Stir this with your pinkie, motherf---er!

Hot Fuzz is fun, and it's nice to see all the English character actors who aren't busy in Harry Potter films, but it lacks its predecessor's freshness. Small-town English Fascism has been spoofed at least as far back as The Avengers, and the hero's odyssey doesn't have that archetypal Joseph Campbell kick. The ramshackle Shaun of the Dead was held together by more than just gags. It was, at heart, the story of a child-man who gets the courage to grow up—to take responsibility for his life, commit to a woman, and make peace with his mother. That he could do this and still get to blow off the top of her head with a shotgun—that's the magic of movies. —Reviewed by David Edelstein, New York Magazine