Film Review: Hot Fuzz

Firstly, apologies that this has been so late in coming. I know it's a lame excuse but I've been so busy with applying to jobs and preparing for and going to interviews (I've had a fair few in the last month but not got myself hired yet), which is a full-time job in itself, and by the time all that's done I've got various life stuff going on - relatives and friends to see, errands to run etc - so unfortunately blogging became one of those things that fell by the wayside. But thankfully that seems to be winding down a little bit at the moment, so now I'm going to try to be much more regular about writing my blog. And with that, on to today's post!

I am a big, big fan of the film Shaun of the Dead, described by its creators as a 'rom-zom-com' where the titular Shaun (played by Simon Pegg) sets out to win back his girlfriend and generally get his life sorted in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Shamefully I have never seen Spaced - one day I'll sit down with 4oD and gorge myself on it - which was a 90s sitcom starring Pegg and formed the basis of the later film, but Shaun is brilliantly funny, inventive and heartwarming, and I really can't recommend it enough if you haven't already seen it.

Pegg, Nick Frost (his co-star in Shaun as Ed the lazy flatmate and who also appeared in Spaced) and Edgar Wright (who co-wrote and directed Shaun and Spaced and may also be known to you as the director of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, which I will blog on another time) have since produced two further films tied to Shaun as part of their Cornetto Trilogy - although I prefer its original name, 'Blood and Ice Cream'. The final film (sniff!), The World's End, has just been released in cinemas and according to the reviews is very good indeed, but before I watched that one I wanted to see the second of the three, Hot Fuzz, and that's what I'm blogging about today.

Hot Fuzz stars Pegg as PC Nicholas Angel, a London copper who's so good at his job that he gets promoted to sergeant and transferred to Sandford, a sleepy Gloucestershire town where seemingly nothing happens and the local police - including Frost as action film-obsessed PC Danny Butterman, the son of the local inspector - spend their days eating cake. However, after a series of mysterious deaths, Angel and Danny begin to suspect there's more to the town than meets the eye...

Watching the film now, which was made in 2007, you get a sense that it is a little dated - the scene where Angel arrests the entire clientele of the local pub for underage drinking, some of whom are shown to have been born in the 1980s, stands out for me. The ending also feels a little dragged out- whilst it has its moments of brilliance, including a fight in a model village and what can only be described as death by swan, a lot of the last 35-40 minutes feels like the filmmakers had a lot of ideas and decided to shoot them all, which was probably a lot of fun to make but feels like it could have been a good few minutes shorter, especially the fight in the supermarket. And, considering it's a buddy cop movie, I was really surprised there was no 'two days away from retirement' gag.

That said the first hour is really strong - the jokes come thick and fast and the small-town mentality is captured perfectly, particularly in the scene where Nicholas eventually discovers the reasons behind the spate of murders, plus several brilliant action movie cliches for those of you who like your trashy film nerdiness. Plus there's some brilliant casting, particularly Timothy Dalton as the suspiciously slick manager of the local Somerfield, Jim Broadbent as Danny's dad Inspector Frank Butterman and Olivia Coleman in a small but very funny role as Doris Thatcher, Sandford's foul-mouthed lone policewoman (or 'police officer' as Nicholas refers to her).

Overall verdict: Hot Fuzz has a lot of funny moments, but it definitely could have lost a good quarter of an hour and starts to lose its way a little bit towards the end. That said - and I haven't seen The World's End yet so please do correct me on this - it is weaker than Shaun and I don't think you particularly need to watch it to complete the set, but if you've already seen Shaun then there are definitely worse ways to pass a couple of hours.

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