Viking Night: Hot Fuzz
By Bruce Hall
August 11, 2015
Simon Pegg clearly grew up on the same savory pop culture junk food diet that I did, being obsessed as I am with all things science, fantasy and violence-fiction. So, since he and his circle of friends first came to my attention, I’ve taken great pleasure in picking the fun bits out of everything they’ve created. The slacker crew from their cult relationship comedy “Spaced” felt like roommates to me. And since it’s a British show, both seasons can be watched back to back in the time it takes to get your tires rotated. So if you can spare that much of your life, it’s well worth it.
Pegg and frequent collaborators Nick Frost and Edgar Wright would go on to recreate their homage-laden approach - British people behaving like Americans, but in very British ways - with Shaun of the Dead and its Cornetto Trilogy follow ups, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.
I’m pretty sure I’ve covered Shaun of the Dead in this column. It’s one of my favorite films ever made, and to describe myself as “delighted” when I first heard about Hot Fuzz would be an understatement on the order of calling Michael Bay’s directing style “ball-swingingly excessive.”
Speaking of Michael Bay’s excessiveness, that’s kind of the deal with Hot Fuzz. Or rather, the deal is with the “buddy cop” film category, particularly the American Flavour Cornetto. Hot Fuzz is a passionate, lingering, tongue filled kiss for the whole genre, with a generous helping of British murder mystery/procedural tossed in. Just like Shaun of the Dead, this is a brilliantly imaginative, painstakingly crafted pastiche of self-reference, homage and smirking self-satisfaction. And it’s the kind of satisfaction you can only get when you’re finally getting to make the buddy cop movie you've wanted to make since you were 13.
And just like you remember, it hits the ground running. Nicholas Angel (Pegg) himself narrates, giving us all the backstory we need on London’s toughest cop. Angel is the best at everything. He’s got the top arrest record, he’s the top shot, the top strategist - he can even run faster than everyone else. Basically, this is the perennial winner of the Jolly Good Bloody Well Best Damn Cop Ever award, hands down. The only thing Angel can’t do well is form meaningful relationships with other people. As his most recent ex-girlfriend will tell you, Nicholas Angel has everything going for him but a heart.
Oh, and also his job. It turns out that London’s Supercop is a little too Lethal Weapon for his own good. The rest of the department is jealous of his achievement, so he's shipped out to the sleepy village of Sandford, run by kindly police chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent). It’s the kind of town where everyone knows everyone else, so the people observe certain boundaries, and police apply the law very loosely. Basically it’s the Mayberry of Merry Olde England. The citizens of the village watch each other’s backs through something called the Neighborhood Watch Alliance (or “NWA”, har har), which is sort of like a Neighborhood Watch, if it was staffed entirely by characters from a 1980s board game.