I’m happy not to oblige The Shagadoni’s request to illicitly record Hot Fuzz and send it to him because the fact is, this movie must be seen in the theater. When picking a venue be sure to choose the one with the best sound and biggest subwoofers, because half the fun is feeling the explosion of vibrations that accompanies the mildest of punches.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first 90 minutes are pretty good, then it shifts tone to awesome for the remaining half hour.
I did my homework, watching Shaun of the Dead (for the first time) this week. Some might say Hot Fuzz is not quite as funny as Shaun, depending on what they count as humor. Shaun was more of a comedy (specifically a Rom Zom Com), while Hot Fuzz is a proper “Hollywood” cop movie in its own right, following all the conventions of the action genre as closely as Team America did.
But while Team America ruthlessly deconstructed the Michael Bay movie to expose its absurdity, Hot Fuzz lovingly rebuilds the Bay picture (albeit parodically) and makes me almost reconsider my loathing of Bad Boys II. In fact Hot Fuzz’s recruitment of David Arnold to provide the music is a credibility coup on par with Team America drafting Bill Pope as cinematographer.
The humor in Hot Fuzz doesn’t come from “jokes” — Nick Frost doesn’t have all the great lines like he does in Shaun — but from its style. Its references to other movies aren’t in the form of explicit sight gags as in the Scary/Date/Epic Movies, but in its acutely observed distillation of the genre as a whole; for example, every perp-booking montage is a quintessential example of Tony Scott editing. That said, there are a few direct quotes of other movies but the story provides the necessary context for a couple of them, so to enjoy it one need not be familiar with action movies (but who isn’t?).
If not generically the screenplay is genetically similar to Shaun of the Dead in that many lines of dialogue from the first half are repeated in the second in a new context, but in my opinion it lacks the cleverness and subtlety with which it was done in Shaun, one of that movie’s chief pleasures (“uh, the first one,” etc.). There are also a few lines taken straight from Shaun (“What’s the matter, never taken a shortcut before?” or “Want anything from the shop?”) which remind you of the previous film, as do a couple moments of exquisite gore and the many cameos. Which reminds me, Hot Fuzz is simply filled with known actors and comedians, almost to the point of distraction, though some of them might be not be familiar out of range of UK airwaves.
It will be interesting to discover how rewatchable the movie proves to be in the future, as it is a full two hours. I suspect owners of the DVD will skip to the final act as often as rewatch the whole thing. But at least in the first instance I was entertained throughout and so far Hot Fuzz is the best movie of 2007.