Comedic cinema has gotten lazy. Rather than a well-plotted feature sprinkled with a liberal dosage of laughs, we have grown accustomed to waiting for them. It's the rare feature that offers gleeful entertainment from beginning to end. All too often we have to exercise patience and work for our laughs. We have to be laid back enough to let the plot develop to the next wacky scenario. We have to prepare for a journey where each piece of humor must out-do what came before it, rather than being comfortable enough to find the inherent humor in the scenario.
And then there are the rare and ebullient films like Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz.
What Hot Fuzz is masterful at, and what makes it such a wickedly enjoyable film, is that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg realize that each type of humor has its place. To get the truest and most enjoyable comedic experience, one has to work for it ... not by trying to outdo what came before, but by intermingling and layering the comedy so that joy is infused into every aspect. No one type of comedy is bad, but each must be balanced, and not lazily overused.
The simplicity of Nicholas Angel's (Simon Pegg) determined walk and rigidity as the film opens is intermingled with incompetency and Bill Nighy's wonderfully dry bluntness. But we're not allowed to think this will be a subtle and laid-back comedy. Wright infuses a frenetic energy into the proceedings (which would become quite useful later with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), to keep things lively as the goofs start to pour in, like Angel heading off to talk with his ex (sneakily played by a face-covered Cate Blanchett). And again, before we can assume this will be a comedy of only slightly abnormal reality, Angel is thrust into an ineffectual town where overzealous monitoring is teamed with drunk kids in pubs and a drunk-driving cop, PC Danny Butterman (Nick Frost).
Parody jockeys with slapstick, wisecracks, blunders, high comedy, melodrama, banter, black comedy, and just about every other form of humor. There is such constant movement through these tropes that there's something to wet every laughter-filled whistle. This energy not only helps the comedy, but also our interest in the proceedings. We might not be a personal-life-lacking do-gooder or supreme-o slacker, we might not care about the beauty of Bad Boys 2, or how cool it is to fire a gun, but Hot Fuzz manages to make us interested -- at least within the realms of the movie -- because you can feel the dedication and exuberance from Pegg and Frost. They have a natural energy that's all too easy to engage in. It's the same charisma that made Spaced so popular (once everyone realized it existed). Pegg and Frost's presence transcends the barriers of the genre they're running through, whether it's geek fare, horror, or action.
It helps that the film is also rife with talent (that's Peter Jackson above) -- over-stuffed to a degree -- but Wright & co. know how to use it properly, so that it's not weighed down with the critiques thrown at films like Spider-Man 3 and The Expendables. There's no ego or ridiculous, larger-than-life storytelling to suffocate the pacing ... until it's the right time. While I find the revelation of the town's evil to be a touch too over-the-top for my tastes, the fight to law-filled supremacy that follows is just the right shade of overt ridiculousness. It's not hyperbole for the sake of hyperbole. It's what Nicholas and Danny have been heading towards. It's the epic showdown that serves plot, characterization, and simply the audience and heroes' fanatic desires. By the end they are, quite literally, giants, gods you might say, fighting in the miniature village to rid the town of dastardly evil.
This fast-paced, addictive exuberance even extends into the credits as Supergrass' "Caught by the Fuzz" bursts forth. Perhaps that's just me, as someone who loved that song in the mid-'90s. (Likewise, the sneaky use of "Romeo and Juliet" by Dire Straights.) On the other hand, this continues to speak to the film's accessibility. UK or US. High-brow or low-brow. The people behind the scenes understand that there's a diverse audience out there, and the film finds ways to throw treats to everyone.
- Point Break or Bad Boys 2?
- Some reviews note a sluggish mid-section. Personally, the only part that stalled me was the cloaked revelation. Did any parts stall your experience of the film?
- Did you catch all of the action movie cliches Pegg and Wright used?
- Which segments/moments appealed most to you? Did you find to be funniest?
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