Friday, January 20, 2012

Blast from the Past

What on earth was I thinking when I wrote an all-too-brief overview of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s career and then proceeded to a review of Timecop (1994)? All will be explained today, and the idea behind this (very atypical) review can be summed up in two words: Hot Fuzz.

I remember seeing commercials for Hot Fuzz (2007) when it first came out, but I never went to see it in theatres. I eventually did see it and loved every moment of it. It is an unusual film in that it manages to successfully mesh two genres and parody them both. One genre is the mindless action romp, such as Bad Boys II or Point Break. (In this regard, Timecop may not have been the best movie to review. However, it fit the theme of the blog far better than, say, Hard Target.) What is the other genre, you may ask? Why, none other than the traditional country-village mystery!

Our main character is Nicholas Angel, played by Simon Pegg. He’s a brilliant cop: extremely dedicated to his job, getting distinction after distinction, and performing his duties so well that his fellow police officers decide to get rid of him. After all, if he stays on in London, he will continue to be exceptional, and they simply can’t have that.

So off he goes to crime-free Sanford, in Gloucestershire, a smashing village that has won the Village of the Year competition for goodness-knows-how-many years in a row. Naturally, this means the village is as crime-free as they come. But Angel isn’t satisfied, and the situation doesn’t improve when he finds out that a drunk driver he has arrested turns out to be his new partner, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). Angel is also unhappy at how the village tends to bend official police-protocol.

But soon, mysterious things begin to occur. People begin to die in horrifying ways, and Angel is convinced he is dealing with a mass-murderer, although everyone else insists that these deaths were accidental. He keeps on the trail and eventually discovers just who is responsible in a scene that manages to be laugh-out-loud hilarious. In a way, you could argue the film parodies misconceptions about the country-village-mystery, but I would argue it still manages to be very funny. You just have to see this movie to see the extreme lengths to which this parody is carried out.

Ah, but that’s just the beginning. In the final half hour, the movie suddenly switches gears completely and the movie turns into one of those shoot-em-up action movies from the 1980s or 90s. The switch manages to feel seamless, and the movie doesn’t treat anybody lightly. You will see old ladies handling guns and priests blaspheming. And the style is very reminiscent of these old movies. (This is sort of why I think Hard Target may have been a better movie to review if it fit the theme of the blog a bit more. Somewhat like this movie, it goes from a stunt-filled action movie to a shoot-’em-up romp.) I really can’t say more without risking spoilers.

What makes this movie so good? Well for starters, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are comic geniuses. They know just the right way to make their audience laugh. They get every inflection, every humorous action scene, and every daily-interaction-with-the-village scene right. They manage to have some sly fun suggesting that the two officers will soon have more-than-a-purely-professional partnership. It also helps that their characters are very sympathetic.

What else is there? Well, Timothy Dalton for starters. I don’t think you can possibly get any classier than Dalton. The only thoroughly bad role I’ve ever seen him in was his part in The Sittaford Mystery… but that movie was such a wreck that no amount of Timothy Dalton could have saved it from capsizing. Dalton bring charisma, class, and charm to his role as a supermarket manager who keeps popping up and acting all mysterious. There’s also Jim Broadbent, who somehow manages to find his way in every movie ever made. He’s pitch-perfect as Danny’s father Frank, who is the inspector in charge. There’s also the two Andys, who manage to wonderfully parody the typical action movie bad-boy image. Heck, all these characters are wonderful!

In fact, I have only one (minor) reservation: the gore. I personally loved it, but I bring it up just in case. It is ridiculously fake and exaggerated (and results in a brilliant final joke), but because of its level, some people might want to think twice before seeing this movie. It’s also mainly for this reason that I wouldn’t recommend it to be watched in front of more sensitive children (who probably won’t appreciate the brilliant country-village mystery parody in the first place).

Overall, however, Hot Fuzz is a small masterpiece in the comedy genre. The only thing tying me down from making this review longer is the intense desire not to spoil more than I can. If you’re a fan of action movies or classic mysteries, you’ll probably like it. If you’re an aficionado of both, such as myself, odds are you’ll love it.

5 comments:

  1. One of my absolute favourite films this one - I can watch it over and over again and it still makes me laugh.

    One thing bothers me, ludicrous though it may be - would someone with Danny's DVD collection really not have seen Supercop - as per the scene in the supermarket?

    I always focus on the important bits, don't I?

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  2. Love, love love this film. I did find the gore near in the end offputtingly disgusting--ouch!

    Pegg is so perfect in this role and Frost is constantly hilarious. His whole relationship with Pegg and with his father is so well-done.

    I think I've seen this film five or six times, lol.

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  3. Commenting on this very late. Just ran into this post accidentally when I was looking for a review of Skyfall here.

    I agree this is a very entertaining film, gore and blood and all. You have done a great job describing why it is so good. Timothy Dalton is a big plus. We watched it for the third time recently as a double feature with Shaun of the Dead for New Year's Eve.

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    1. Tracy, glad you liked the review, but just to let you know, you won't find a review of SKYFALL on here yet. Last year, after the movie came out, it seemed like everyone and his grandmother had written a review by the time I saw the film. And I didn't feel I had much more to add. I decided instead to embark on a 007 journey, and will eventually get to SKYFALL when I review all the Bond films later on this year. :)

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    2. Very cool. I will be waiting to see what you have to say about it. I just watched it last night (on DVD, first time), and was eager to read reviews.

      I will go catch up with your reviews of the 007 novels. I read them years ago but have only read Casino Royale recently and want to re-read them in order myself. Eventually.

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