Screenplay by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.
Hot Fuzz is a nice change from the kind of action trends apparent in the Hollywood motion picture industry. Because the United States is the cinematic capital country of the world, most actions include American versions of the police force. Now I don’t know how exaggerated they are, but World’s Scariest Police Chases make them seem accurate. Which makes the main thing to like about Hot Fuzz the way it combines those cliches with British policing. We don’t have Ford Crown Victorias, we have Vauxhall Astras. We don’t have gun-wielding officers, we have special divisions for that. And our uniforms are less subtle. Plus, we take a completely different approach, with community cohesion being considered more important than actually preventing crime. This clearly occurred to Wright and Pegg, who decided to make a statement about this by inserting American action cliches into a British environment, and created the town of Sandford, inspired by the real fake village used for training. It’s probably the most English place there is, because everyone’s white. And given what we later learn about Sandford, it seems that the Neighbourhood Watch Association has a racial motivation, along with everything else.
Hot Fuzz, then, comes down to two things: a comparison. There’s realist Sergeant Nicholas Angel, whose goal is to make Sandford the best village it can be, and populist Officer Daniel Butterman, who prefers guns and chases. But for a protagonist who cares so much about the community, he’s only been transferred to the Sandford Police Service from the London Metropolitan Police Force. And Butterman, who prefers the exaggerated, arguably less realistic, part of it, is actually from Sandford and would be more suited to London. Two opposing idealists stemming from their own opposites. Part of the social parody is that these two people are from the wrong place, as if they should swap their lives. Especially since Angel is a much better law enforcer than Butterman, despite the reverse normally being true. As is the way the action takes place in a village, and the enemy is a neighbourhood watch. All of which aren’t just non-existent in most police pictures, but are the inverted opposite of what audiences are used to. Ergo, in a genre filled with cliches, Hot Fuzz is a clever reinvention by showing audiences the underside, but still including a realistic portrayal of crime – it just comes from a different place.
Another thing it does well is to accurately represent the amount of paperwork that policing involves. Every arrest is followed by the criminal process system, and it sums-up the way Wright also chose to direct. Because British policing is arguably less interesting than other countries, he makes the boring parts look exciting. The mug shots, criminal lineups, and door openings are shown in a flash montage, whereas the action sequences are made to look cliched. Hot Fuzz makes the statement of the heart of law enforcement is in the administrivia, with what the public see merely being a facilitator.
All of this comes to a front so that, by the end, there’s been a major amount of character development. Angel’s still able to be a by-the-book officer, but is still able to be social, why Butterman’s learnt from him to become a much better one, while he in-turn made Angel more able to integrate socially. What we get in the end is a clever satire of the police action genre, a realistic spoof of British policing, and a story of two friends who teach each other how to grow up. Ultimately, it’s a buddy cop story, which is catalysed by the other elements.
It’s just a shame there’s no serial continuation.
Hot Fuzz – genre spoof as realistic satire 9/10.