Rewatching and reviewing screen classics and old favourites
Something about the current global situation makes me look for a little escapism in my movies. To a simpler time and place, removed from the harshness of the constant worry that we’re living through. On the face of it Hot Fuzz may not seem that escapist. The second (and arguably best) in the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, it is rooted in the mundane realities of British small-town life. But if you’re of my generation, and grew-up in one of those small towns, Hot Fuzz comes with a heavy dose of nostalgia, taking you right back to teenage days and pubescent laments. It’s hard to believe it, but Hot Fuzz came out thirteen years ago. That means I was slap bang in them middle of my teens, an I think Hot Fuzz will always hold a special place in my heart because of this.
For once though this is a film that holds up in spite of my potentially rose-tinted spectacles. Based in the fictional village of Sandford, Gloucestershire, it draws from Edgar Wright’s experiences growing up in Wells, Somerset, where it was mostly filmed (I was born in Somerset!). A perfect blend of Hollywood parody and insightful, hilarious comments on local life, Hot Fuzz is wonderfully crafted, bringing stylised gore and clever details that can’t fail to entertain. It feels almost like a Wallace and Gromit film; you’re always looking for those little hints and clues in the background.
In a way, we shouldn’t really have ‘got’ Hot Fuzz as teenagers. Much of the film’s humour comes from re-workings of cop movie tropes, to which we were almost entirely oblivious. But perhaps because these are loving parodies, rather than mocking imitations, this doesn’t really matter. There is a basic grammar and vocabulary that any film-goer can tune into. The film is almost like the games we used to play as kids, pretending to be James Bond or action heroes, laid out on a grand scale. There are lots of brilliant observations; whether or not you come from an English village you are sure to recognise the curtain-twitching ‘greater good’ philosophy of Sandford’s ‘Neighbourhood Watch Alliance’.
Simon Pegg is the movie’s standout (perhaps understandably given that he co-wrote it with Wright), with Timothy Dalton’s villainous supermarket owner a close second. The dynamic between these two is hilarious, and cheekily plays with the tropes of British murder mysteries. Pegg and Wright must be given credit for a genuinely good plot. It is simple, but sits just the right side of predictable, and gives them plenty of scope for homage, set pieces, and the film’s brilliant visual effects. Look out for a performance from now Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman, in one of the comedic roles she was until recently best known for. There is also an appearance from a cleverly disguised Cate Blanchett, who apparently loved Sean of the Dead so much that she asked Wright for a part in his next film.
I was slightly hesitant to rewatch Hot Fuzz. I’ve seen it probably a dozen times, and didn’t want to fall into that habit of laughing just because you always used to. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the jokes just as fresh as ever. Between splitting my sides laughing I spotted new references and details, and enjoyed the film maybe even more than before. Something about being on the other side of the world and separated from all that silly Englishness adds an extra level of charm.
Hot Fuzz, like the rest of the Cornetto Trilogy, has proved itself deserving of not one, but many rewatches. If you need to escape into a simpler and utterly hilarious alternative reality, this is the one to watch.
Which is your favourite of the Cornetto Trilogy? And what have you been rewatching recently? Let me know in the comments below!