Nothing is worse than an anniversary making you feel as old as the hills. Thankfully, many of my retrospectives for SWITCH haven't triggered that anxiety; 'Easy A', for example, was such an integral part of my high school experience that celebrating its 10th anniversary in my mid-20s didn't feel like a rude awakening. However, upon the 15th anniversary of 'Hot Fuzz's' release, I'm beginning to feel the back ache just a bit.
A masterclass in genre-mashing and lampooning, the middle (and arguably best) instalment in Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy sees his frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (both of whom voice Beatles members in 'The Sparks Brothers') star as frenemies-turned-besties Nicholas Angel and Andy Butterman, respectively. Nicholas' fast-paced and high-achieving police officer career rings true to every A-type protagonist you've ever seen; in fact, the film stops just short of giving Angel a tragic, family-was-murdered-by-the-killer-he-never-caught backstory. Of course, the London police service ("Not police force," Nicholas tells us, "That's too aggressive.") isn't too happy with his performance, shipping Nicholas off to the sleepy town of Sandford. If the copious amount of underage drinking wasn't indicator enough of the town's low crime rate, Andy and the precinct's indolent attitude towards their profession is the clincher. It's not long, however, before the idyllic façade shatters via a string of increasingly violent (and creative murders), requiring Nicholas and Andy to become as heroic as the characters in Andy's beloved action movies.
It's rare for an action film like the ones Andy religiously watches to have just as much heart as action, but 'Hot Fuzz' is an undeniable labour of love for these kinds of movies. Rather than pointing out the ridiculousness of Michael Bay's characters flying through the air while shooting a gun in slow motion, this craziness is aspired to by Andy. There are so many in-jokes and references that the satire is used more as an homage, both appreciating the grandeur of a house exploding and laughing along with the audience at the same time.
Wright rounds up the cream of the British actor crop, in both major and minor roles. Among the most memorable of these is Timothy Dalton ('Toy Story 4') as shady supermarket owner Simon Skinner and a scene-stealing, innuendo-laden performance from Olivia Colman ('The Father') as Doris Thatcher, the sole female police officer in Sandford. They bring life to what one expects to be a standard buddy-cop plot trajectory; Nicholas' disdain for Andy, through time passed and being joined at the hip while solving the murders, ends up turning into love. However, 'Hot Fuzz' is so much more than a bromantic comedy. Although its core DNA lies in the buddy-cop genre, the film also functions as an excellent slasher flick - set in a small town where everyone has a secret and anyone could be the hooded killer, 'Hot Fuzz' sounds like a perfect slasher set up. The kills are inventive and impressive, and when the killer(s) reveal drops, it's a genuine twist that even horror fans might not even see coming. On top of all of that, it's also ridiculously, ludicrously funny - Andy's attempts to replicate Nicholas' epic fence-jump chase knocks the wind out of me to this day. By mixing comedy, horror and action with a meta spin and pulling it off with a laugh every single time, 'Hot Fuzz' aims for a level of comedy timelessness that few studio films rarely aspire to.
'Hot Fuzz' aims for a level of comedy timelessness that few studio films rarely aspire to.
It's been nearly nine years since Wright, Pegg and Frost have worked together on Cornetto closer 'The World's End', and while Wright has spun off into more pointed action, documentary and horror attempts with his recent outings ('Baby Driver', 'The Sparks Brothers' and 'Last Night in Soho' respectively), he's well and truly due for a return to his roots. Pegg mentioned a future reunion with Edgar Wright in recent interviews, so let's hope we see Frost join the project so this dream team can deliver some more big-screen laughs.