Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is the best the London police force has to offer. His arrest record is 400% higher than any other police officer. Angel is trained to handle every potentially situation, from hostage standoffs to bank robberies and everything in between. He's also so obsessed with his career as a police officer that his girlfriend, a forensics technician, has left him for another technician. Angel's success has gotten his superior's attention, but not in the way he'd prefer. Thanks to professional jealousy from his fellow officers and superiors resent Angel's unprecedented success and send Angel to the quiet, rustic village of Sandford. Sandford hasn’t had a major crime, let alone a homicide, in more than twenty years.
Once in Sandford, Angel meet's his new boss, the affable Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent). Butterman wants nothing more than to see Angel to relax and take his cue from Butterman’s son and fellow officer, Danny (Nick Frost), as lazy and lackadaisical as Angel is active and driven. Danny’s daydreams involve action heroics (e.g., gunfights, explosions, hand-to-hand combat). Sandford, however, isn’t as calm and peaceful as it appears at first or even second glance. People keep dying, and while the elder Butterman refuses to do anything under the presumption the deaths are purely accidental, Angel suspects something’s amiss. It doesn’t help that Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), a local supermarket owner, keeps popping up at crime scenes and acting suspiciously.
Where Shaun of the Dead parodied the zombie/survival horror sub-genre, Hot Fuzz parodies the action film, particularly the "buddy" action films that pair up distinctly different characters to fight crime. While Hot Fuzz name checks Point Break and Bad Boys 2, it also name checks Silent Rage, one of Chuck Norris' lesser efforts and Supercop, one of Jackie Chan's better efforts. Wright and Pegg draw their inspiration for the gunfights from the Point Breaks and Bad Boy 2's of the world. Wright and Pegg quote dialogue early from those films, only to re-purpose them later on at the moment of maximum comic impact. In case you're wondering, that's all to the good.
Between Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg has gone from directionless slacker to driven careerist. He’s still an egotist, though. Whether he’s mired in depression over a crappy job as an electronics salesman and a failed relationship (as in Shaun of the Dead) to a failed career (for being the “best of the best”) and another failed relationship. This time, though, Wright and Pegg dispensed with the obligatory romantic interest and focused just on Angel and his friendship with the inept, if well-intentioned, Butterman the younger, consciously playing up the latent homoeroticism present in "buddy"/action flicks. Early on in their courtship/friendship, the younger Butterman invites Angel in for coffee (Angel demurs), then tea (he demurs again), and finally lager (Angel accepts). Butterman and Angel finish off a magical night of purely platonic male bonding by watching Butterman's two favorite action films, Point Break and Bad Boys 2.
Following the pattern set by Shaun of the Dead, wherein Wright and Pegg gradually changed the tone from lighthearted horror/comedy to blackly comic survival horror, Hot Fuzz starts as an action/comedy (more accurately, a spoof or parody of the action genre) then switches to police procedural/straight action more than halfway in to the storyline. The jokes and gags tend to peter out during the second half as Angel and Butterman investigate the murders and run through possible suspects. Luckily, Wright and Pegg remember that Hot Fuzz starts is, after all, an action/comedy parody and pull out all the stops, throwing in a major twist about the identity of the killer (or killers) that gets funnier with each, increasingly ridiculous iteration. Wright and Pegg also don’t shy away from depicting the elaborate murders in all their gory excess.
© Mel Valentin, 20th April, 2007
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