Written by: Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Timothy Dalton, Bill Nighy
Small towns give off the warm feeling produced by connection with more people with the lack of hustle and bustle provided by city life. An appealing attribute many seek out, but they also tend to be quite insular and Hot Fuzz displays the madness that can occur when those in charge decide to make disturbing decisions in order to maintain what they believe to be their ideal. Throw in incredible comedy, hilarious performances, quickly effective editing, and you have Edgar Wright’s best film.
Excelling as a police officer in Longdon, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) gets transferred to Sanford because of his efficiency making everyone else look bad. Displeased with his move, Nicholas finds it a struggle adjusting to the different speed of this town but then notices a string of mysterious deaths seen as accidents but he believes there may be some foul play involved.
Absurdist humor with quick-paced editing has become a trademark in Edgar Wright’s films and he becomes one of those directors where you instantly know you’re watching one of his features. Nothing subtle about it and his style absolutely thrives in this film because of the way it utilized buddy cop tropes while unironically honoring the source material. It makes for a fun evaluation of what makes a buddy cop film while also being one of the very best ones within the genre.
All of it starts with the relationship between Nicholas Angel and his new partner in Sanford, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are no strangers to working together and the incredible chemistry they bring to the roles they’ve done in the past really came to shine here as their friendship propels this feature forward. The dynamics they build from Chris being the by-the-book excellent cop and Danny simply doing the job because his father could not build more of a potential ravine between them but their friendship becomes all the more lovely because of it. They became such a pleasure to watch together and they deliver the jokes with such style that really makes this feature a true comedy behemoth.
With the film opening by displaying Nicholas’s accomplishments as a cop in London, where the crime rate probably sits at the highest in the country shows he knows what to do in this environment. It makes the switch to Sanford, deemed the safest town in all of England, such a shift. Instead of taking down drug havens, he instead needs to fend off a swan seemingly terrifying the town and stop kids from drinking underage at the local pub. Quite the change of pace, but the utopia initially established in Sanford has much more to it and the layers revealed happen subtly and then right in your face to see.
Along with Nicolas and Danny, Hot Fuzz creates a wonderful assortment of characters each adding their own flavor to this big delicious pie. From the cops in the station to the locals, each of these characters feel unique and contribute to the story. Even at the very beginning, where Nicholas gets initially transferred, he gets bombarded with the trio of Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, and Steve Coogan trying to explain why he must be transferred in a hilarious sequence of fake formalities and kindness hidden underneath some real contempt. This initial scene really sets up for what the comedy of the film hopes to bring and it only gets better when Nicholas arrives at Sanford.
A delightful supporting cast makes this such a delightful cast along with their wonderful character names. Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Olivia Colman, Timothy Dalton as Simon Skinner, and several more easily come in when they need to and deliver nuggets of gold on every single occasion. Each of them has such quotable lines from Olivia Colman’s Doris laying out all of her past sexual conquests and the two Andys voicing their displeasure at pretty much everything Nicholas tries to achieve in Sanford. They bring so much in filling in what makes this town unique and why Nicholas rightfully loses his mind when all of them have a completely different disposition and outlook with their police work.
Timothy Dalton does deserve some of the spotlight because his devilish turn as Simon Skinner continually left me in stitches. From his first interaction, while jogging with Nicholas to all of the visits to his grocery store, Skinner has the name and acts in the way where he’s believed to be involved with all of the “accidents.” It’s one of those cases where it must be obvious he’s the one behind everything but the proof justifying the accusation continually falls apart, which just makes it hilarious. I mean, the guy’s name is Skinner. Dalton has a complete blast portraying this role and it became such a pleasure to watch it go down.
As with many Edgar Wright films, his love for cinema runs deep and Hot Fuzz provides him with the opportunity to demonstrate his appreciation for the buddy cop genre. From making direct references and even having Nicholas and Danny watch both Bad Boys and Point Break, it really displays how much those films influence the absurd actions taking place in this feature. As with the movies referenced, a bromance forms between these two characters, and it just becomes hilarious Wright plays homages to these films whilst making a feature most likely better than all of them.
From the first watch to several subsequent viewings, Hot Fuzz delivers all of the best Edgar Wright does as a filmmaker. Snappy and effective editing combined with some of the best comedy going around, his love for cinema as a whole shines brightly here in such an entertaining way. Nearly every scene provides a moment for an outward laugh, even when things get a bit dark as compared to other parts of the film. Part of the Cornetto trilogy and my favorite of the bunch brought together by Wright, Pegg, and Frost because of its unabashed adoration for those films coming before it and the way it definitively surpasses them.