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From Under A Rock: Hot Fuzz

June 16, 2018 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
Hot Fuzz
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From Under A Rock: Hot Fuzz  


“Fascist.” “Hag.”
This week’s pick is amazing.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Michael chose Event Horizon. This week Aaron takes Michael out from under the proverbial rock to show him Hot Fuzz.

Hot Fuzz
Released: February 16th, 2007 (U.K.)
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
Simon Pegg as Sgt. Nicholas Angel
Nick Frost as Police Constable Danny Butterman
Jim Broadbent as Inspector Frank Butterman
Timothy Dalton as Simon Skinner
A Murderer’s Row of Cameos

Aaron Hubbard: Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite movies of the 21st century, and certainly the best comedy (though it has elements of at least three or four other genres). I was going to cover this myself… until Michael told me he hadn’t seen it. So here we are.

Michael Ornelas: You may have overhyped this for me, because it fell short of my expectations. I still really enjoyed it, and thought a few elements about it were downright perfect…but it’s not even Edgar Wright’s best movie in my opinion.
Overpacked With Awesome
Aaron: Hot Fuzz has no wasted screen time. Almost every line in the movie is a set-up, a payoff or a hilarious non-sequitur. Beyond that, it’s packed to the gills with visual jokes, clever, precise editing and fascinating characters. I’ve heard it said that you need to see Hot Fuzz 37 times to fully appreciate it. While that might sound hyperbolic or even pretentious, I actually kind of agree. It’s a movie that was good the first time and incredible the sixth time.

Michael: I’ll definitely see it again and see that for myself. It’s super fast-paced, so the rewatch value is obvious, as I’m sure I missed some things. My issue with the movie is that while it’s very clever, I wasn’t bursting out laughing. And I’m the first to tell you that a comedy doesn’t have to make you laugh to be great if the story is engaging and the stakes are high. And while the stakes were very high, I was just not immersed in the film the way I expected to be. I vastly preferred Shaun of the Dead in this regard, despite being very different movies.

Aaron: That may be a matter of preference. I’m much more a fan of dry wit and jokes that are funny the same way the hundredth time you’ve heard it. Hot Fuzz has humor that is smart and sophisticated, and I love it for that. But if I’m honest, I don’t call Hot Fuzz the best comedy of the young century because of how funny it is; it’s because of how well it’s put together. I love that it makes fun of buddy cop movies while simultaneously being a more sincere buddy comedy than almost any of them. I love that it’s not afraid to go full-on horror with its gore effects, cut deep on social commentary, or put in jokes that you won’t notice for several viewings. There’s just so many aspects of the film to dissect, way more than I’m qualified to do.

The Wright Way to Edit
Michael: Edgar Wright is an amazing visual storyteller. His directing and his editing feed into one another in the most satisfying of ways. He uses the frame instead of words to tell story, and he makes some of the most interesting transitions of any filmmaker. Sequences of quick cuts tell us that Nicholas is moving across the country in a matter of seconds. We get a sense of just how “in the middle of nowhere” he is by showing him having to take a train, a car, another car, etc. to get to his destination. And it’s funny! Without a word being spoken, a joke has been made and Edgar Wright is the king of that.

Aaron: No doubt about that. Edgar Wright and Chris Dickens’ rapid-fire but meticulously-constructed editing is something that consistently blows me away when I’m watching his movies. They’re probably the most distinguishing feature, as most people wouldn’t even try to make some of these edits work. But it’s a great display of skill and also highly efficient.

Michael: I actually first saw Wright’s visual style when I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and immediately fell in love. Shaun of the Dead is his masterpiece in my opinion, but the fact that it’s notable across all of his works is really cool to me because fewer and fewer directors are standing out as distinct these days. Edgar Wright is a name that I get excited to see in the credits.
More Relevant Over Time
Aaron: So, kind of a sad, funny truth about Hot Fuzz is that it feels more prescient in 2018 than it did in 2007 (where it still felt topical). The plot of the movie is about a small-town conspiracy to eliminate undesirables from the town to maintain a visage of pleasant perfection. The police are corrupt and part of the system, overlooking and often contributing to the string of murders that Nicholas Angel finds himself wrapped up in. It’s hard to ignore than Angel’s personality of “good cop” is actually a quietly profound statement; he’s someone that values due diligence, non-violent solutions even in the face of violence, and always doing his paperwork. Angel may be a pain in the neck for some, but this is a police officer you want in your neighborhood. Edgar Wright said that he made this movie in part to honor the hard work of the police force, which he feels gets the short end of the stick in a culture that loves crime movies and likes to paint police as corrupt. And whether he meant for it to be… I don’t think anyone can deny that statement feels a lot more powerful now than it did when the movie hit theaters.

Michael: For sure. It makes me realize how many steps in a seemingly backwards direction we’ve taken since 2007. The village’s viewpoints on “outsiders” are what felt the most topical to me as our country (and many others around the world) have lately built walls instead of bridges. I also like the idea that it takes an outsider (in Angel) to correct the system by the end of the film. It’s saying that some of the most qualified people may come from outside your comfort zone and give everyone a chance because we all can have a lot to offer.

Aaron: “Make Sandford great again!” Yeah, uh, Wright and Pegg didn’t eerily read the next decade’s political climate, did they? It also sticks out to me because of our country’s ongoing issues with police violence and a lack of oversight. It’s a little sad to me that one of the only films that promotes the important values of good police work is a low-budget comedy penned by a British actor and a director of cult-hits. Angel and Danny have every excuse to contribute to the murderous infrastructure of Sanford, but they signed up to serve and protect the people, and that’s what they’re gonna do. It’s oddly kind of inspiring.

Michael: While I had very high expectations that the film didn’t quite meet, it was still very good. Good enough for me to want to rewatch the film on a regular basis. The editing is top tier, as it’s Wright. The comedy is funny but I found myself smirking more than laughing. And the story is pretty interesting and rings true today as it has a hefty dose of nationalism. All in all, this movie is great.


Aaron: Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite movies ever made. It’s not just that it makes me laugh, though it does that consistently. Nor is it just that I admire it’s creative editing and cinematography that makes a film with almost no-budget a better and more grandiose action movie than a lot of tentpole blockbusters. And it’s not just because this feels like a meaningful social commentary that is more relevant now. It’s all those things, and more, but especially the sincere, heartwarming friendship between Nicholas and Danny (a strong point of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy as a whole) that make this a movie I can rewatch dozens of times.


Michael: So yeah, disappointing since my expectation was perfection…but still awesome.

Aaron: I just encourage you to watch it again in the future. It only ever gets better.

What is Edgar Wright’s best film to date?

Next week:

Michael: We’re going to get to watch a movie next week for our 150th column that comes from the warped mind of my favorite director, David Lynch.
Blue Velvet
Aaron: Oh yay, these are always straight-forward and not at all taxing on my brain. But at least it’ll most likely be excellent.

Michael: Haha. Yeah….

Who’s your favorite surrealist filmmaker?

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The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Hot Fuzz is one of Edgar Wright's finest movies, perhaps the best depending on who you ask. Part sincere buddy cop movie, part creepy conspiracy thriller, part gory horror movie, part biting social commentary and all sharp, layered comedy, Hot Fuzz is an impressive chimera of a thing. Especially when one looks at its tiny budget. It's also overflowing with plot points, throwaway gags and callbacks that you're almost guaranteed to miss things, so it benefits tremendously from multiple viewings. Check it out.