When I first saw some of director Edgar Wright's "Shaun of the Dead", I didn't quite get some of it. Then, when sitting down with my girlfriend one night to watch it, I did get it. All the inside jokes, references, homages and lampoons of a variety of movie genres: romance, action, zombie, comedy. The film is a total package, reverent and funny.
For "Hot Fuzz," the same arresting descriptors can apply.
Wright assembles some alumni from "Shaun of the Dead". Simon Pegg is Sgt. Nicholas Angel, the top cop (eh, I mean constable) in all of London. His arrest record is 400% higher than that of the rest of the police force. However, the Chief Inspector (Bill Nighy) tells him, "You're making us all look bad."
So Angel is shipped to the quaint, quiet and action-less village of Sandford where he is partnered with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the somewhat dimwitted son of the Sandford police chief (Jim Broadbent). The young Butterman believes that everything he sees in the clichéd action cop movies-from "Bad Boys" to "Domino"-is the real deal: cars flying in the air during a high-speed pursuit; a dozen guns strapped to the good guy who must give justice himself with guns blazing; and a corny, sarcastic quip after each elaborate sequence, kill, etc. Angel soon discovers that retrieving the local swan is the most chasing he'll do.
Then, mysterious and grisly murders begin to happen around town. At least Angel is the one who thinks its murder; the police and townspeople all believe these to be nothing more than accidents. Soon Angel, finds himself in the middle of a deep conspiracy involving the majority of the town-or is that another one of those clichés?
What Wright and his team have done is watch every Michael Bay and Tony Scott blow-'em-up action movie (unfortunately) known to man and twist every little conceivable detail each of those types of movies share and turns it into a living Caricature of those movies, referencing them so much to the point that Butterman makes Angel watch "Point Break" and "Bad Boys II."
While I do believe "Shaun of the Dead" is still the superior of the two, Hot Fuzz shares a distinct similarity with the freshman outing. "Shaun of the Dead" doesn't just parody zombie movies-the movie itself is a great zombie flick. Likewise, "Hot Fuzz" doesn't just lampoon those mediocre-at-best, superficial action films; it is one. Instead it's a brilliant one.
It may take more than one viewing to catch all of the inside jokes and references (ditto applied for Shaun), but Hot Fuzz issues a warrant for your arrest and attention to a fine piece of satire that is so great, it should be a crime.
But Michael Bay would be proud. And jealous.