Lego puts out a lot of collections that are meant to be put together in a specific way, to build an X-Wing or a castle or a fully-functional, sentient robot (they're quite advanced these days). The fun, of course, is taking all of these sets and jumbling them together into cars or monsters or car-monsters. But, you can always tell that the door is a Tie Fighter wing. Hot Fuzz, much like these plastic-block hybrids, is a movie built from other movies (see also: Grindhouse.). You can tell which pieces came from other sources, but, it is a lot fun to play with.
Hot Fuzz is directed by Edgar Wright, and written by him and Simon Pegg, the team who brought us the excellent Shaun of the Dead . Super-cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is stunned when his highly-decorated stint in the London Police Department ends because the higher-ups claim that he makes the rest of the force look bad. As a "reward", they send him to the perennial "Village of the Year" winner Sandford, bucolic and utterly crimeless. It's a town where everyone knows each other, greets each other with friendly smiles, and kills each other viciously.
On his first night in town, ever-vigilant Angel clears out a pub of underage drinkers and arrests his soon-to-be partner, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) for drunk driving. The next day, Danny peppers his stoic new partner with questions inspired by a life of gorging on action films. "Have you ever fired two guns whilst jumping through the air?"
This being a Wright/Pegg/Frost endeavor, you know that the answer to that question will be a slow-motion, background-bass-thumping "yes" by the end of the movie. But, not before the movie lets Angel and Butterman form a real partnership, one that is obviously, hilariously meant to take the place of the romantic subplot of Standard Action Film #136, down to the winning of a stuffed animal at a fair.
The pairing works and finally lets Angel "turn off" while at the same time making Danny a better cop. Pegg and Frost's partnership develops believably as the movie progresses, so when we reach a point where Angel is trying to get to the bottom some bloody deaths in Sandford, Butterman is at his side, even though the rest of the department taunts him for being murder-crazy.
Much like Shaun, Hot Fuzz's humor is partly in its callback structure, partly in its pop-culture references, and partly in kicking old women in the head.
This movie is built out of far too many other movies, books, and television shows to count. It's easy to see Bruckheimer, Bay, Chinatown, French Connection, Point Break, Die Hard, numerous Westerns, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo+Juliet (naturally), as well as what Pegg and Wright refer to as the "tight jeans" genre of action movies.
But really, it's a twisting of every movie where a cop has to turn in his badge and gun, or an FBI agent ignores the advice of local PD, forcing the lone-wolf officer to track down the killers solo, or . . . .
The homages are everywhere. The cinematography is low angle power-shots, fast cuts and bombastic helicopter shots. Every locker-door opening, notebook-closing is punctuated by loud, bass echoes, not to mention the intentionally unsubtle music cues throughout. The sharp, grey-and-green lighting and set design could be right out of the station in Bad Boys II.
But Fuzz is more than a game of name-that-reference. There are very few gags that would miss even if this were the first action movie you'd ever seen. Its pacing is patient when it needs to be and rapid-fire when it doesn't.
Wright gives us time before the first murder to meet our cast of characters, more than ably played by the likes of Jim Broadbent and smarm-secretion machine Timothy Dalton (who I always thought should have been a Bond villian and not Bond himself).
The climax goes on a tiny bit too long, though, as each sequence of it seems to be referencing a specific, different movie.
Wright and Pegg might have created Hot Fuzz from a plethora of other sources, but what they put on the screen is excitingly unique. It's Frankenstein's monster soft-shoeing to "Putting on the Ritz" . . . before jumping through the air whilst shooting two guns.