Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ten Statements About....HOT FUZZ (2007)

One of these people is committed to this still
stuck in Shaun Of The Dead...
“Well, I wouldn't argue that it wasn't a no-holds-barred, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride. But there is no way you can perpetrate that amount of carnage and mayhem and not incur a considerable amount of paperwork."

1) This is perhaps my least favorite of Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto’ films, and that’s because the ‘blend’between the comedy and the genre Wright is sending up doesn’t quite work.  This results in a schizophrenic film that does entertain, but never pushes itself into the same range as the films before and after it in Wright’s canon.

2) I think maybe one of the reasons the blend doesn’t work is because of Pegg’s performance as Nicholas Angel.   His performance is strong, but unlike his roles in either Shaun of The Dead or The World’s End, there’s no growth in the character.  Pegg is so exact in his creation of Angel as an action hero that there’s no sense of growth in him.  Sure, there is some lip service to Angel ‘not being able to turn it off,’ but we never see him conquer this outside of being able to bond with Nick Frost’s Danny.  We’re watching a static character, which becomes frustrating as we move forward.

3) While I know a lot of people look towards Timothy Dalton’s Skinner as the stand-out, I rather like Jim Broadbent’s turn as Inspector Butterman--not just because he plays the bumbling, oblivious character relatively straight, but because his straightness is so effective that the big twist in his character’s arc comes as a complete surprise even though it shouldn’t.
"Alright, here's our influences..learn them well, because
we'll be referencing them constantly."

4) Maybe one of the other reasons this film seems so imbalanced is because it seems to draw attention constantly to the films it’s using as reference points.  Instead of being satisfied by creating a sequence that mirrors the backyard chase in Point Break, Wright feels he has to show us Nick and Danny bonding over the movie and shows us clips that are then recreated in the film’s climax.  The reminders serve to force us out of the film’s reality on a regular basis.

5) This movie is really violent like the films it’s satirizing....but unlike the films it’s satirizing, that violence is very, very graphic.  It’s as if Wright is repudiating the casual attitude the classic 80‘s and 90‘s action films had towards death.  The problem is, I don’t know if it works, as each shocking sight of a burnt up corpse or a man’s head being atomized by a falling piece of masonry jars so much you focus on the carnage and not the narrative flow for a few moments.

6) Maybe it’s because the presence of Edward Woodward in the cast inspired Wright to obliquely pay tribute to The Wicker Man, but the whole cultist mufti seems...out of place.  It does give us a cool visual of these hooded figures wandering around the edges of the film, plus ends on a decent laugh moment, but it doesn’t contribute anything to the film.  You could excise the entire cult aspect and not lose a second of the narrative arc whatsoever.

7) One thing that does work is the nature of the main henchman, Rory McCann’s ‘Lurch’ Armstrong.  McCann’s performance is menacing, but has a big edge of sympathy.  McCann manages to convey the fact that Armstrong is not entirely aware of severity of what he’s doing and is, at his core, a very, very young boy.  I know that the final shot of him crying while his mug shot is being taken is supposed to be funny, but there’s something....sad about it.  In a good way.
There is a goose riding in the back seat of this patrol
car.  Your argument is no longer valid.

8) The more I think about it, the more I’m dissatisfied with Nick Frost’s Danny.  Unlike his or Pegg’s turn in The World’s End, or Pegg’s role here, Frost is basically his character from Shaun of The Dead issued a policeman’s uniform.  He brings no nuance to this character, and his role as the facilitator of Nick’s humanization doesn’t quite work.

9) Yes, I know that the sudden turn of the other officers in the Sanford Police Department might seem out of place--save that it makes sense in the context of the type of film Wright is satirizing.  If there is one thing Wright is good at (and I think he’s good at lots more), it’s capturing the feel of movies he’s emulating.  And the best moments are the ones where he’s referencing the tropes of the buddy cop movie (like the 'suiting up’ sequence that begins the third act) without slavishly imitating them.

10) Given the gothic trappings Wright gives this film--not just the cultists, but the crypt sequence towards the end of the second act, the weirdness of some of the peripheral characters, and the likesuch--I have to wonder what it would be like for him to direct a full-on horror film.  It’s not like he doesn’t present these horror trappings effectively.

Overall...while it does have some good moments, this is the least of Edgar Wright’s canon due to a dissonance between the comedy and the buddy cop elements and some dodgy performances.