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Brandon Judell

Hot Fuzz: The Good, The Bad, and the Inane


Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg
Director of Photography: Jess Hall
Production Manager: James Biddle
Cast: Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Bill Bailey, Timothy Dalton,
Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Billie Whitelaw, Edward Woodward, Anne Reid, Tom Strode Walton, Elvis the Swan

By Brandon Judell

Rafe Spall, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Olivia Colman in Rogue Pictures' Hot Fuzz - 2007. Photo courtesy of movies.yahoo.com.

There are two quotes that when fused capture the essence of Edgar Wright's deliciously delirious paean to both American buddy shoot-out cinema and the idealistic village life Wordsworth might have penned an ode to.

The first was uttered by Robin Williams: ''In England, if you commit a crime, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, 'Stop, or I'll say stop again.' "

Oscar Wilde voiced the other: "Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease. Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching. Our splendid physique as a people is entirely due to our national stupidity."

No wonder Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), "the finest cop London has to offer," feels very much a loner lately. He's a first-rate marksman, he's exceedingly clever (except when it comes to romance and introspection), and he thinks unremittingly, at least if the topic at hand relates to police methodology.

Angel's resulting success rate at capturing the nefarious is 400% higher than any other officer's. But instead of garnering him acclaim, he finds himself transferred to a lovely small "crime-free" of village of Sandford. (It appears in London, Angel was making everyone else on the force look too inept, including his higher-ups. A major no-no.)

So what is "Dirty Harry" to do in a village that is reputed to be the loveliest in Britain? Capture swans on the loose? Arrest graffiti artists and midnight urinaters? Chase youths absconding with grocery-store candies? Oh, no! It's enough to drive the finest mad.

But luckily, as soon as Angel has settled down into his somber hotel room (his cottage is being readied), a bunch of dead bodies start piling up. Beheaded community actors are found in their auto just after performing a ghastly "Romeo and Juliet" and a blown-up and rather fried pub-goer, whose stove exploded while he was preparing bacon, are being viewed by the locals as accidents, but are they?

And are all the sweet elderly inhabitants of Sandford really as genteel and doddering as they seem--or are they warped Miss Marples with Uzis? It's up to Angel and his cheerfully hefty and immeasurably inept sidekick (Nick Frost) to find out.

Brilliantly directed by Wright from a gleefully acerbic script by both Wright and Simon, and masterfully shot and edited by Jess Hall and Chris Dickens respectively, one can't overlook the inspired casting. The best of both old and new Brit talent has been gathered here, including Anne Reid ("The Mother"), Billie Whitelaw ("The Omen"), Bill Nighy ("Notes on a Scandal"), Edward Woodward ("The Equalizer"), and Timothy Dalton (James Bond).

But it's Pegg, in a stellar comic performance, who lifts the film from being a mere applaudable satire, possibly on Tony Blair's version of Britain (sweet on the outside, warmongering at heart), to a first-class entertainment. No matter how absurd the situation his Angel finds himself in, Pegg keeps it genuine. Imagine Jimmy Stewart in "Animal House" or Steve McQueen in "Road Trip."

By the way, Wright and Pegg are also responsible for 2004's mega-zombie-hit "Shaun of the Dead." Having accidentally bypassed that venture, it's now moving to the top of my Netflix queue. These two gents are addicting.

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