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Wed April 25, 2007
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
Most of the artists attached to Shaun of the Dead, that dead on spoof of zombie films, are responsible for the action, buddy-cop satire, Hot Fuzz. The wit in both is similar, straddling between irreverent takes of the genre while still providing a fast-paced, somewhat suspenseful story. Hot Fuzz isn't the classic Shaun has turned out to be, but it is an enjoyably humorous skewering of the US's Die Hard and Lethal Weapon franchises and UK police dramas, sharp enough to make Richard Donner, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Michael Bay uncomfortable.
London Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is reassigned to quiet hamlet Sanford because he's just too good a cop (400 percent better than anyone else). They need him to go so they don't look so bad by comparison. Angel is type A, left-brained obsessive compulsive on whom no clue or righteous arrest is lost. Pursuing a rogue swan is clearly beneath him in this quiet town, but soon he intrepidly investigates suspicious deaths related to the town's interest in the best- town-in-England prize.
His buddy cop, PC Danny Butterman ( Nick Frost), provides the dufus- with-a-heart laughs, allowing for plenty of yin/yang contrasts between the uptight sergeant and the loose patrolman. Underneath the sometimes absurd but amusing interchanges lies a dialogue about the need to make judgments about who should be jailed and who is no danger to society (such as teenage drinkers better off in a pub than on the streets and street performers posing minimal threat to society).
Witticisms abound such as the names fitting the characters (cop as Angel, reporter as Messenger) and numerous borrowings from setups and dialogue in other films (Point Break, Dirty Harry, and Straw Dogs, etc.). The homoerotic subtext in many of these references is gently hinted at.
But all in all, it is a bright satire that somehow ends up being a minor sermon on the dangers of perfection and the joys of experiencing life in wholly different ways.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com