When the Brit RomZomCom Shaun of the Dead hit the States, it was a refreshingly informed riff on the zombie mythos, with a sly approach to the humor and character interaction. It was a decidedly polished affair for a debut film, which in retrospect only seems obvious in that director Edgar Wright and fellow writer and lead actor Simon Pegg had a couple of seasons honing their chops with a cult BBC series called Spaced … with more than a few vignettes from the show carrying over. Continuing at you in the same vein, here our boys take on the slam-bam action of the buddy cop genre, exemplified by such Michael Bay fare as Bad Boys.
After consistently putting his colleagues in a bad light with his super-cop ways, a London bobby is reassigned to a bucolic village. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker all cock bemused eyebrows at his big-city attitudes. Errant swans seem to be the heaviest action going down on the cobblestoned streets. All seems perfectly normal at first, until random villagers begin to show up with their feet in the air … and limbs in other places. And then it’s up to our hero to put a stop to it. Now.
At times surprisingly more grisly than their zombie spoof, Hot Fuzz may still present some problems for an American audience, with accents thicker than a soccer thug’s head, and pacing that at first seems a bit restrained … that is, up until the final act when all Bruckheimer cuts loose.
I enjoyed it, but came away still disappointed, and for some of the reasons that I loved Shaun of the Dead. Hot Fuzz seemed too self-referential and even when it wasn’t, it was too busy referencing other films to the point that all it existed for was the spoofery. In some ways, it came across as a middlebrow Epic Movie.
While Shaun utilized the same approach, that movie was still driven by the narrative, and the pop-culture references were ornaments. With Hot Fuzz, the references were the whole damned tree. Not to say that it was bad, because it wasn’t. It just would be nice to see the boys establishing their own identity rather than continuing on in pop culture autocannibalism.