Hot Fuzz with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright directing is another outing for the crew that brought us the fantastic Spaced and Sean of the Dead. This is another playing out of the same sort of idea as was present in Sean of the Dead, mashing up two ‘incompatible’ ideas and then feeding off the humour that results from the dissonance. In Sean of the Dead that was the combination of the British setting, Sean’s life problems, romantic comedy and… zombies. Here the mash up is between high octane US style cop buddy movies and the sedate nature of countryside policing in the UK, gunfights and car chases having little to do with minding church fetes, finding lost pets or sitting in on neighbourhood watch meetings.In Hot Fuzz Simon Pegg plays the part of Sergeant Nicholas Angel, a dedicated city supercop with personal life problems but an arrest record running some 400% of the average in the MET (Metropolitan police). As a solution to this problem – the rest of the force is being shown up as a bunch of lazy arseholes – Angel is reassigned to Sandford in Gloucestershire, a quite town with an extremely low crime record and where nothing appears to happen.
Angel is extremely frustrated by his appointment there and is unused to dealing with living in a town where the most excitement to be had is chasing the occasional shoplifter and he ends up partnered with Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman, a fat, largely useless police constable, son of the local Inspector and obsessive fan of cop films who becomes enamoured of Angel because he’s seen real action. Things change for Angel as he uncovers the fact that Sandford’s low crime rate is actually due to the murderously zealous crime prevention of some of the locals…
Hot Fuzz isn’t an out-and-out comedy, there are moments of physical comedy, of course, and no shortage of sight gags, but very few actual ‘jokes’, even though ‘By the power of Greyskull!’ is now guaranteed to make me giggle. Instead the humour just comes from the ridiculousness of the cop film conceits, transferred to the small town, gunfights, drop kicks, dramatic shouting, all of it becomes ridiculous and gains from being delivered so straight faced in such an incongruous environment.
Coming from the English countryside adds even more for me, I know places like the model village, the references to defensive local businesses and out of town stores, the amateur dramatics, the less-than-legal locals, even the loud and obnoxious flirtation of WPC Doris Thatcher all echo things I know from living out here ‘in the sticks’, right down to the escaped swan.
I think you need to be British to really get it and I think you need to be from the countryside to really get every nuance, but if you are, it’s bloody wonderful.