Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a recent movie. This week: In honor of The Heat, we assemble a lineup of buddy-cop movies.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
The central joke of Hot Fuzz—“Lethal Weapon in Somerset”—is simple, but it works. What could have been just a series of humorous juxtapositions of the rural, quaint country setting of Sandford with rampant action clichés instead manages to yield solid returns for a surprisingly tight two hours. (Almost every throwaway line in the first hour gets at least some payoff in the second.) Even the jokes that amount to simple contrasts, such as the ad slogans for supermarket owner Simon Skinner (a smarmily menacing Timothy Dalton) that double as slasher taglines, continually land. Director Edgar Wright’s general willingness to just watch Simon Pegg’s supercop Nicholas Angel go about his business clashes amusingly with his fast-cutting montages. They depict activities that start out mundane (taking a taxi, downing pints at the pub) and grow increasingly insane (Pegg arming himself to the teeth, mug shots of village people).
Two engines sustain Hot Fuzz’s potentially flimsy premise: First, the cast is more than capable of selling even the lackluster lines. Pegg conveys some of the sadness inherent in a real-life action hero (albeit one who is strictly by the book, rather than off it) in his portrayal of hyper-competent straight man Angel. Nick Frost’s man-child Danny Butterman is a more sympathetic, earnest version of the character he plays in Shaun Of The Dead, carrying much of the emotional weight of the unusually meaningful relationship he develops with Angel. Meanwhile, all of the Sandford residents turn on a dime from rural tranquility to bloodthirst. Wright, Pegg, and Frost’s many years working together (on Spaced and Shaun Of The Dead, among other projects) contribute to the easy, infectious chemistry. Thankfully, Butterman and Angel’s budding friendship is built on the foundation of Hot Fuzz’s second engine: a deep, abiding love of action movies, including Bad Boys II, Point Break, and Dirty Harry. The film is enormously successful at sending up the sheer ridiculousness of the genre while remaining hopelessly enamored with how badass it is.
Availability: DVD and Blu-ray (packaged alone or with Shaun Of The Dead), rent or purchase from the major digital providers, and disc delivery from Netflix.