Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #623
Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: February 16, 2007
Country of Origin: United Kingdom, France, United States
Running Time: 121 minutes
Director: Edgar Wright
Producers: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Screenplay: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Special Effects: Mike Kelt, Nick Martin, Peter Simons
Visual Effects: Richard Briscoe, John Lockwood, Steve Street, Val Wardlaw
Cinematography: Jess Hall
Score: David Arnold
Editing: Chris Dickens
Studios: StudioCanal, Working Title Films, Big Talk Productions
Distributors: Universal Pictures, Rogue Pictures
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Edward Woodward, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon, Olivia Colman, Karl Johnson as Police Constable, Bill Bailey, Billie Whitelaw, Eric Mason, Stuart Wilson, Paul Freeman, Rory McCann, Kenneth Cranham, Maria Charles, Ben McKay, Adam Buxton, David Threlfall
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Tubthumper “Kick Out The Jams”
 Adam & The Ants “Goody Two Shoes”
 David Arnold “Angel Returns To Sandford”
 Jon Spencer & The Elegant Trio “Here Come The Fuzz”
When Edgar Wright’s rom-zom-com Shaun of The Dead hoisted itself from the topsoil in 2004, it quickly became a worldwide hit and propelled both its director and lead Simon Pegg into the major leagues. In many ways it was like a Cornetto as, seasoning the vanilla tones of a sweetly observed romantic comedy, were lashings of something far more finger-licking to horror fans. Whilst humor was evidently a key component, it never once strayed too close to parody, and the closing act played it pretty much straight-faced much to George A. Romero’s delight. An endorsement from the Godfather of the Dead himself is far more than simply an apple from teacher as it’s one thing for pupils to do their homework but entirely another presenting it in a manner that doesn’t earn them detention. By all accounts, Wright and co. got it absolutely spot-on as reflected by a $30 million box-office coup and instant global hero-worship.
Alas there’s a curse behind every blessing and the question now, with plans to fashion this standalone film into a marketable three-piece, aptly named the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, all eyes were on Wright to repeat the feat. Critics have a convenient way of losing perspective once you’ve got a little success under your belt and fans often allow such negative press and their own expectations to taint their experience. That said, hands don’t come much safer than Wright’s and both Pegg and right-hand man Nick Frost were committed to ensuring that their director’s vision was realized. Indeed, the former was on co-writing duties again and, as a self-confessed movie aficionado himself, knew precisely what the fanboys were clamoring for. Lest we not forget that this is a trilogy in flavor alone so the only continuity that matters is the general tone and overall quality. Hot Fuzz nails both confidently and traveled decidedly well as a result, netting $80k and generally positive feedback across the board along the way. Not half bad when you consider there’s not a rotting cadaver in sight.
With Shaun’s story now told, the new kid on the block is Police Constable Nicholas Angel (Pegg) although he certainly isn’t your average wet-nosed rookie. Regarded as something of a high-flier by his associates at the Metropolitan Police Service, all his hard grind and endeavor has seen him promoted to the new rank of Sergeant and nobody could argue that he didn’t deserve it.
“Police work is as much about preventing crime as it is about fighting crime. Most importantly, it is about procedural correctness in the execution of unquestionable moral authority”
His reward/penance for reminding others in his station just how much they underachieve is the blessing/curse of an instant transfer to the sleepy village of Sandford, Gloucestershire and this proposes to be a cushy little number as their crime-rate is virtually non-existent. However, Nicholas didn’t join the force for a “cushy little number”, he joined the force to bring criminals to justice and make the world a safer place as per the instruction of his original mandate. In short, Nicholas Angel is a shit-heel, although woe betide the fool who informs him face-to-face.
Of course, like any hands-on lawman in a fresh post, his primary concern is to hit the mean streets, earmark some hoons, clock all the wrongs he intends to right, and let the villagers know damn well that his stay in Sandford will entail business and not pleasure. Enter born and bred wide boy PC Danny Butterman (Frost), assigned as Angel’s guide and wingman, and relishing the opportunity to form the kind of formidable buddy cop pairing of the films he grew up idolizing.
“He is not Judge Judy and Executioner”
If this proposes a baptism of fire for Danny, then it smells suspiciously like babysitting for his hard-boiled partner as the only six-pack PC Butterman possesses is tucked away in his refrigerator, to the left of some bad carbs. Nevertheless, a consummate professional like Sergeant Angel makes do in such circumstances and there’s sufficient common ground to hint at potential bromance in the future, provided all parties i.e. Danny continue to tow the line.
One thing has flagged up on Angel’s radar in triple-quick time and that is the amount of unfortunate accidents responsible for preventing the tiny population of “Village of the Year”, Sandford, from exploding. Residents appear to be dropping dead for fun here and it all gets conveniently brushed beneath the shag-pile by the good folk responsible for keeping everything tickety boo. Danny’s own father Chief Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) sits at the top of the tree, overseeing this idyllic settlement with a look of immense pride offset by a vague whiff of the totalitarian.
Meanwhile, local supermarket manager Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) has the sarge’s spider senses tingling from the offset, and he prides himself on being able to smell a fart in a sewer so closer scrutiny is necessitated as he forges on with poking his nose into affairs that quite clearly aren’t considered to concern him. Needless to say there’s still just enough time to scoff down a quick Cornetto on the fly as the sugar rush could come in handy further on down the line. You see, always looking ahead our avenging Angel.
“Is it true that there’s a point on a man’s head where if you shoot it, it will blow up?”
Pegg and Frost waste little time in picking up precisely where they left off and their banter has the same adhesive quality that made Shaun and Ed such a joy to kick back with. The difference here is that there are no opportunities to boot up the PlayStation 2 or root through boxes of eighties vinyl to prioritize projectiles and neither is there any great requirement to when packing badges, sirens and justice-bringing enforcers. The story is always progressing and both have to think on the move with Frost happy to take his compadre’s lead and partially less inclined to drop a bollock.
Let’s not trounce the turnips here, he’s still a lumbering liability on occasion, but his loyalty extends farther than having his master’s back providing something more interesting hasn’t poached his attention as it did back in zombie central. Indeed should faithful lap-dog Nicholas be required to take a bullet in his vest for his conspiracy theories, then Danny has already got his catcher’s mitt on although he may need a trampette for that all-important slo-mo leap.
“Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, Aaaaaaah?”
As with Shaun of The Dead before it, the boys know when it’s time to knuckle down and attach those game faces and the closing act requires them to do just that as comedy takes a back seat (alongside the goose) to the kind of all guns blazing brute force that inspired this affectionate homage in the first place. From The French Connection and Chinatown (Angel’s hot picks) to Bad Boys II and Point Break (pure Butterman fodder) there’s plenty here for cinephiles to identify with, while the dark arts also receive a run-out as we hurtle towards a suitably wham! bam! conclusion. By this point, Nicholas has managed to recruit himself a small army and the likes of Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams weigh in with some gloriously animated back up.
“If we don’t come down hard on these clowns, we are going to be up to our balls in jugglers”
Hot Fuzz marries mayhem and merriment decidedly well and, while perhaps a tad overlong at just over two hours, it’s not like there’s any dearth of incident to keep those sirens wailing throughout. It may never scale the nose-bleeding heights of its illustrious forerunner but that has nothing to do with the fact that we’re no longer innocent bystanders and have long since been let in on the joke. It simply isn’t quite as streamlined or possess the ability to create a sub-genre all on its lonesome. That said, Wright’s film boasts a fully loaded arsenal of gags and more cameos from national treasures than you could shake a truncheon at, while in Pegg and Frost, possesses a pair of buddies determined to ensure that it’s a fair cop. Thus I’m only too happy to chip in with the paperwork. Evening all.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: One thing that pleases me infinitely is Wright’s insistence that practical splatter be used wherever possible and there is much ado about snuffing here as the dispatches are suitably grisly and revel in every last splash of crimson. From head compacting anvils to gobstopping model church spires and enough spent shell cases to have John McClane cursing his lack of socks, it’s every bit the free-for-all we would expect from the team who got a little bit of red on us.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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