I’ve mentioned before that there are only a few directors who, in my mind, can do no wrong — Aronofsky, Raimi, Singer and Nolan. Having just seen Hot Fuzz, I’m now going to add Edgar Wright to that list. I don’t want to be overly hyperbolic, but I think that the British film industry ought to get down on their knees and thank whatever deity happens to be passing for not just Edgar Wright but for Simon Pegg as well, because their films are not only excellent, but because it means we, as a nation, can finally stand behind ensemble comedy pieces that don’t have the words ‘Carry’ and ‘On’ in the title.
Hot Fuzz, the latest piece from the makers of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, is teeming with talent, with so many stand-out performances and cameos that it’s nearly impossible to single anybody out. As with Shaun, this is very much a Simon Pegg and Nick Frost vehicle, and their obvious chemistry works to great effect here with the blatantly-homoerotic action-movie posturing, Frost playing the earnest foil to Pegg’s straight man.
Even with only Pegg and Frost on screen, Hot Fuzz would be fantastic, but the supporting cast is also excellent, reading like a who’s who of British comic talent — Bill Bailey, Adam Buxton, Stephen Merchant, Olivia Colman, Kevin Eldon, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Rafe Spall, all nudging up alongside veterans like Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Edward Woodward and Timothy Dalton. There’s not a single person on screen that I didn’t want to see given more lines and more screen-time, particularly Dalton’s beautifully-caddish supermarket manager and Colman’s foul-minded, innuendo-spewing PC Doris. Some other reviews have criticised the film for being overlong, but I could have sat through hours more.
What I like most of all, though, is that the film works on different levels. As an action movie it’s successful, with enough car chases, explosions and gruesome deaths to keep people happy. As a comedy, it’s hilarious, with line after line leaving me in tears. But what I particularly enjoy is watching a film made by genuine film buffs, because then I, an amateur film buff myself, can sit throughout the whole thing smugly knowing why any given joke is twice as funny as everybody else might think. References to other films abound, from The Wicker Man to Goodfellas, and it’s a joy to watch films made by people with such an obvious love for the medium. Just as in Shaun, genre stereotypes are spoofed and mocked with gentle irony and an uncynical affection, right down to the Bad Boys II-style one-sheet— compare and contrast.
I’ve nothing negative to say. Let’s savour the moment, shall we?