After making a successful rom-zom-com (that’s a “romantic zombie comedy” for the unenlightened) in Shaun of the Dead, where do collaborators Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and (director) Edgar Wright head next? Hot Fuzz is a buddy cop movie. However, this isn’t just any ordinary Bruckheimer/Bay-type movie. In fact, it pays homage to those movies (including the classic Point Break and Bad Boys 2 in particular). Injected into that formula is a bit of British humour. Sergeant Nicholas Angel (played by Simon Pegg) is transferred from London to the country–the self-proclaimed “safest” village of Sanford. So on top of fish-out-of-water humour, there’s a city-mouse-country-mouse relationship between Angel and his new partner (played by Nick Frost). Since Pegg’s character is such a type-A personality, he’s quite serious and most of the jokes come from Frost in his usual persona as the well-intentioned oaf. While all this setup provides many warm chuckles, it wasn’t the laugh-riot that Shaun of the Dead was. This movie tries hard not to be a spoof. It’s full of somewhat incompetent country cops, but it doesn’t get quite as preposterous as, say, Police Academy.
In a way, it’s good that Hot Fuzz is not a spoof because then at least it takes its own story somewhat seriously. When Sergeant Angel starts to work in Sanford, not only does he have to deal with culture-clash, but also the lack of respect paid to him by the locals who find him too intense (After all, one of his biggest assignments is to recover a swan that has wandered away from one of the villagers’ farms, it should be a breeze). Before long, a series of fatal accidents start to occur and Angel suspects not only that they’re not accidents, but that they’re all linked to a possible serial killer in the village. It’s a rather simple plot, which actually takes a few twists that I’m not sure I liked, but it’s also something that could be believable as the plot of a true action cop movie. As the movie continues, we get to know many of the townsfolk, including several quirky members of the local neighbourhood watch organization. It’s hilarious how one of the members who monitors the surveillance cameras (hard to believe they’d have cameras, but it’s all sort of explained in the end) keeps mentioning the return of the human statue (you know, those street performers who pretend to be statutes by keeping still) as if he were a sex offender, a war criminal or something as bad as that.
The chemistry between Pegg and Frost is quite natural and it’s believable that they can become friends despite their characters’ different personalities and backgrounds. I suspect that ease is a product of the real-life frendship between Pegg and Frost who have been buddies for a long time. Frost’s character (who’s kind of like a big kid still living in the shadow of his dad, the chief) even teaches Pegg’s about why he enjoys buddy cop movies and the two have a mini-marathon watching them one evening. The mood turns from the cuddly aspect to more of an action movie once Sergeant Angel starts to understand what is really going on and who the killer is. At that point he whips out the big guns (literally) and there’s a showdown between both sides. Obviously it’s all still tongue-in-cheek all the way ’til the end, but any fun had at the expense of the buddy-cop genre is all had out of love. With that being said, it’s somewhat uneven as a movie and because it tries to be so many different things, it’s not really as funny as it might have been. Nevertheless, if you enjoy buddy cop movies, Hot Fuzz can kind of stand on its own as one of those, too. You can’t really go wrong with Pegg, Frost, and Wright and I hope they keep going with their genre-bending adventures — maybe a pirate movie next, eh? (4 out of 5)