In which Gerry Hayes dons mirror sunglasses so people can’t see when he falls asleep…
Hot Fuzz, 2007.
Directed by Edgar Wright.
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Paddy Considine, dozens of other British actors who you know and love and have seen in countless other films and TV shows.
Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.
I don’t know what it is about Simon Pegg. I actually like him but I can’t seem to get on with a lot of his films – particularly those that he had a hand in creating. I’ve tried. Really, I have. It’s just that I can’t see what other people see when I watch this film (or Shaun, or Fat Boy). It just leaves me cold and I think that maybe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I’m the problem and the giant hordes that watched and loved Hot Fuzz are right. Maybe I’m the one that’s out of touch.
Pretty soon, though, I remember that I’m definitely right and that this film just isn’t that funny.
You know the plot. Pegg is Nick Angel (the first in a series of ridiculous character names that exist only for comic effect that isn’t there). He’s super-cop. The officer with the best arrest record in London and a right pain in the arse. His colleagues ship him off to Sandford – a sleepy country village – as they’re fed up looking at his joyless mush and listening to his humourless treatises on the letter of the law. I sympathised immediately.
Despite being a tiny town with no crime, Sandford has a well-staffed police contingent. Jim Broadbent is the inspector in charge of officers played by Frost, Colman, Considine, Bill Bailey, Rafe Spall and others. Considine and Spall are mildly amusing as smartarse detectives but the others just play the bumbling bumpkin parts. We’re simple folk ‘round these ‘ere parts.
So we’re right into ‘fish-out-of-water’ territory as Angel tries to settle in to an environment not used to his sort of officiousness. I sense the opportunity for some amusing gags then. Sadly, the writers didn’t.
Then it becomes a skit of Midsomer Murders, albeit a fairly uninteresting one. More murders in various country-styles and Angel becomes increasingly frustrated at the failure of the local force to properly investigate. A cloaked figure attempts to bring some Wicker Man, cop-in-country-village-mystery into things but just seems a bit sad. Still though, intrigue raised, all that remains is to throw in a couple of high-adrenaline chases to bring us to the final revelation.
Which I won’t talk about.
Except to mention the showdown. What it’s all clearly been leading up to. By-the-book Angel has armed himself to the teeth and gets in a gunfight with a number of bad-guys. The problem is, the film can’t get over its goodie-goodie, middle-class, everything’s-ok-really core and nobody actually gets killed or badly hurt. There’s more bloodshed in an A-Team shootout. This is, I think, the biggest problem of Hot Fuzz – it’s all too nice. I’m guessing that’s what they were going for but I don’t feel it works. Granted there’s a dark underbelly but it’s hammed-up so much (by a cast with dozens of big names) that it becomes pantomime. Again, possibly that’s what Wright was after. Still… The whole thing just doesn’t really gel. It can’t seem to settle on a consistent ‘feel’ and I just can’t get on with it.
Anyway, in the end, Nick’s character arc is complete and he’s learned a little something about himself. Just in time for a last twist and a final big-bang/feeble grab for attention before they all live happily ever after.
I tried to like it. Really.
Read more I Sat Through That? right here.
Gerry Hayes is a garret-dwelling writer subsisting on tea, beer and Flame-Grilled Steak flavour McCoy’s crisps. You can read about other stuff he doesn’t like on his blog at http://stareintospace.com or you can have easy, bite-sized bits of him at http://twitter.com/gerryhayes