Good news: Here comes the ‘Fuzz’

Reeling it in

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2007

“Hot Fuzz”

Big Talk Productions

2 hours, 1 minute

My father is a recently retired teacher, which means he has a lot more time on his hands now. Some of that time is spent teaching at the community college, some is spent worrying over which part of the house needs to be fixed, and some is spent calling my brother and I at all hours of the day, usually from the new cell phone he is still trying to figure out.

Often, those calls are to report on the latest movie he’s just seen. The calls all have the same general format. “Hey! (Traffic sounds in the background.) You’ll never believe what I just saw over at the Tinseltown! Did you see, (insert action or courtroom drama here)? Whaaaaat?!?! It’s not playing there? Oh man! You gotta see this!”

This week’s call was actually the second such reporting I’d received on “Hot Fuzz,” the new British action comedy that is, indeed, not showing here.

And it’s not just my father and my friend, recently returned from abroad, who are raving. It’s crowds, cheering and applauding the screen, and critics, from Rolling Stone to the Rochester Rag. My wife and I went to Anchorage, and I’m glad we did. My father is right — you gotta see “Hot Fuzz.”

“Hot Fuzz,” as the advertising so deftly announces, is brought to you by the same team that created the zombie-comedy hit, “Shaun of the Dead,” which is appropriate as, if you liked that one, you’ll probably like the other.

Simon Pegg is Sgt. Nicholas Angel, by far the best cop on the London Police Force, (“ummm, well actually the official vocabulary manual states that we’re to refer to it as the ‘Police Service’ from now on, as ‘force’ is a bit too aggressive”).

Anyway, Sgt. Angel’s incessant rule following and much-too-impressive arrest record leads his bosses in blue to affect a transfer to the quietest, most crime-free village in all of England. Or so it seems.

Upon arrival, Angel wastes no time getting down to work. His first official arrest is a drunk driver, who turns out to be the chief of police’s son, and our hero’s new partner. The offending officer’s punishment? Providing the station with ice cream for a whole month.

It seems things work a little different in the sleepy little village of Sandford. In fact, aside from the “Best Village” competition, the judging of which occurs in just a couple of weeks, there is little that can get the townsfolk worked up.

But a top-cop like Angel just can’t turn off his radar, and when people start dropping like flies (“Accidents happen all the time. What makes you think it was muuurder?”) alarm bells start ringing in his head.

It seems that Sandford’s not so sleepy after all.

“Hot Fuzz” works on multiple levels, and does so brilliantly. On the surface, it’s a broad satire of American action films. Every stereotype is in evidence, from Clint’s steely stare, to Michael Bay’s spinning camera work, to the incredibly cliched leaping through the air, two guns blazing away. This isn’t National Lampoon, however, where the joke is king. It’s the story and characters who rule the day, and the humor revolves around them.

Most touchingly written is the relationship between our two protagonists, Pegg’s Sgt. Angel, and his previously mentioned partner, Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman. One’s a prig and the other’s a dope, but their friendship is sweet and both characters are imminently likeable despite their faults.

Some of the best moments in the film involve Danny, obviously star struck by this supercop from the big city, asking incessant questions about his experience. “Did you ever fire two guns whilst jumping through the air?” “No.” “Did you ever fire one gun whilst jumping through the air?” “No.” “Did you ever fire your guns up in the air whilst yelling ‘AHHHHHH!!!’?” “NO!”

A combination of sweet sentimentality and bitingly witty comedy, “Hot Fuzz” hits exactly the mark it’s aiming at. Like “Shaun of the Dead,” it is a surprising mix of the two, and it’s success has to be attributed to the writing, done by director Edgar Wright and Pegg, and the collegial chemistry between Pegg and Frost, best friends in real life, as well as onscreen.

There are moments, as in “Shaun,” where the gore gets slightly excessive, but they are relatively quick and somewhat comic-bookey. On the whole, “Fuzz” has something for everyone, from action-lovers to action-haters, and one thing is certain: these guys can do satire right. Grade: A

“Hot Fuzz” is rated R for gore, violence, and language.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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