Hot Fuzz wasn’t nearly as funny as I was expecting it to be. It was one of the more anticipated films I was excited about reviewing and when I started watching the film, I was laughing plenty but I quickly noticed about the forty minute mark that I wasn’t in stitches like I had expected. By the time the film reached its absurd ending, I felt like yelling “Again!”, as if I was a kid who had just gone on his first roller coaster. An odd reaction to a film that was thoroughly unimpressive the first go around, but I quickly realized before the film amped up to the action that the trailers and DVD cover promised, that the film, while funny in its own right, wasn’t nearly as slapstick as I’d thought it’d be. Still, while the film didn’t live up to my pre-formed expectations, it was a remarkably fun film to watch.
In the film, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) plays a cop that is so impressive at his job that he’s promoted to Sergeant—but not on the current force in the city. No, he’s reassigned to a small town where he eventually becomes friends with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and after the town begins getting a series of horrific “accidents” done upon some of its citizens, Angel begins to suspect murder.
I’d never seen Shaun of the Dead (it is now on top of my “to see” list, however), so a lot of the references that the DVD points out the previous film were lost on me. In addition, and I realized this while watching the British The Office as well as Extras, that a lot of the famous British actors act as funnier symbols if you know who they are. I honestly had never seen anyone of this cast prior (aside from Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Timothy Dalton and Bill Nighy), so the other jokes that the commentary and fuzz facts track mention had gone completely over my head. Still, it’s a testament to the film itself that was as enjoyable as it was on the first viewing, but after watching it on the second go around it becomes even more humorous as you pick up on jokes or things you missed prior. The films frantic editing and over-blown sound effects only add to this and several times during the first viewing of the film I had to skip back a few seconds to listen to a joke again because it came so fast that I wasn’t prepared for it. That and I had a horrible time understanding the thick English accents in the film at times for some strange reason.
What’s so great about Hot Fuzz, aside from the no-holds-barred ending which nearly brings the walls down with the insane amount of bass it produces, is that it takes plenty of time to set the characters up. While the villain is quickly pointed out to us (he looks evil…and has a mustache!), it ends up having a bit of twist in the second act, which came as unexpected in a film that was built upon Hollywood clichés. On top of this, we actually get to see Pegg’s character of Angel change and become more genial in the small town, while Frost’s Butterman becomes more of a hardass than he was previously.
I don’t know how much longer I can go without completely gushing about the ending. As I said before, it’s ludicrously over the top and from the first drop kick Angel lands in the woman’s face, it all just ramps up from there and the sheer amount of shotgun and handgun ammo that is unloaded is astonishing. Even more, each shotgun blast is felt, nothing is spared and it’s really quite spectacular. The rapidity of the cuts, the quick camera work and dialogue that continues throughout the film is simply awesome and I don’t know how much better it could have gotten. It followed the Hollywood action movie script to the book and yet it still felt refreshing—landing somewhere between a parody of such films and really just a film that is an all around joy to watch.
The acting in the film is top notch and there isn’t a bit of it that wasn’t enjoyable in some way. Pegg’s character was meticulously played and the repeated wide-eye shots he gives throughout at the sheer stupidity of the small town at times was done remarkably well and even the physical gags, whether it being a trash can thrown at someone or the fence jumping, are kept to a minimum so they don’t get stale. The film is full of great lines, but the one that sticks out most in my mind is Timothy Dalton’s line as Simmon Skinner as the police pull up to his store: “Here come the fuzz.” It’s not comedic in the least, but it gives you a sense of all-hell breaking loose that you can only get from a wonderfully played villain coming up against the good guys. The ensueing market brawl is remarkable and Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall as Andy Wainright and Andy Cartright make the sequences stand out, especially with lines of “It’s alright, Andy! It’s just bolognese!” and a particular one about cutlery I won’t mention for the younger audience this site has.
Overall the film comes Highly Recommend to any and all. I just implore you, however, to go into the film not expecting a slap stick hilarity fest. The film takes itself quite seriously up until the very end where it just lets go and decides to be nothing more than a maximum carnage film.
While the R2 release is two discs packed to the brim with extras, the R1 release is a much slimmer package. Sadly enough the commentary track mentions extras the R1 release doesn’t even have, such as other commentaries and extras that were filmed for the DVD but weren’t put on this release. Still, arriving in a single disc amaray case with no cardboard slip, no disc art (only the plain lettering Universal insists on putting on their DVDs) and only an insert advertising HD-DVD, Hot Fuzz makes up for the lack of flair in the DVD case area with the fantastic animated menus.
The menus, fully animated and with sounds, are made up of the police station and the different areas of it. The extras are easy to navigate, with nearly every part of the bonus menu having something you can select and view. For some odd reason the DVD packaging doesn’t list a commentary track, although there is one with Edgar Wright (writer/director) and Simon Pegg (writer/star), with Nick Frost oddly being absent on all of the R2 release commentaries as well.
The commentary, especially when paired with the “Fuzz-o-Meter”, a trivia track, is a great listen and while some of the information is repeated on the Fuzz-o-Meter (literally seconds before or after it’s said on the commentary), most of what we get in terms of trivia on the film is rarely repeated between the two. Wright and Pegg rarely leave the commentary with a dry moment and overall it’s a ton of fun to listen to and highly recommended as they point out plenty of things in the film that reference other films (and not just Shaun of the Dead).
There are a ton of deleted scenes on this set, all rightfully cut but all a lot of fun to watch, and all come with commentary by Wright. He makes clear why they were cut, and why he wanted some left in and with the films runtime of over two hours (well, over by one minute), it’s clear why they were left out, if nothing more than just time constraints. Still, they’re fun to watch and I’m glad we got as many deleted scenes as we did.
“The Fuzzball Rally” follows the trio of Wright, Pegg and Frost as they tour the U.S. in promotion of the film. They engage in many panel discussions (including one with Kevin Smith) and film premieres, as well as a ton of phone interviews (during one series of which they all strip down to their underwear and try to make each other laugh, succeeding many times). On top of this, Frost makes use of the birthday cakes he receives during their trip by flushing them down the hotel toilets, leaving skid marks along the way.
There are a set of extras on this set that are extremely short and the first two of which are “Danny’s Notebook” which shows the reverse side of the notepad that Danny carries in the film, complete with sound effects by Frost. The other short is “The Man Who Would Be Fuzz”, with Pegg and Frost acting out the scene outside of Danny’s apartment as Sean Connery and Michael Caine (according to the back of the DVD anyway, I honestly had no idea what I was watching at first). The other short set is “Hot Funk”, which is, I believe, all of the scenes with curse words in them redubbed (or in the case of some, I think, reshot) with cleaner language, including the use of “silt” and “funk” in place of some of the stronger words. Outtakes are included as well and are hilarious to watch, albeit short. Plenty of fun is had on the set and I know there had to be more than what we got, but oh well. Storyboards round out the extras, which are fun to skim over, but I’ve long lost my desire to look at storyboards after watching them on a series of other DVDs (aspiring directors will no doubt want to check them out, however).
With the extras out of the way, let’s cover the audio and visual portion of the DVD before wrapping up. The video on this release is clean and clear, with a bit of grain at times. No ghosting, combing or artifacting is present and overall the print looks gorgeous. The 5.1 mix is absolutely thunderous, providing plenty of bass (and I do mean plenty…copious amounts, really) throughout the film, even before the big finale (which sounds absolutely awesome). The major issue I had with the audio though, and I’ve noticed this with a lot of other Universal discs as of late, that the dialogue is really low. I thought my center speaker was going out, but I tested other discs and they’re loud as ever (and the commentary on this set was much louder than the rest of the dialogue). The other extras were fairly easy to hear, aside from the outtakes which were a strain to hear at times. Combined with what I mentioned prior about the fast and thick English accented dialogue, it sometimes made it hard to hear all the dialogue clearly over the intense sound effects. Still, it’s a minor quibble and the audio isn’t too terribly low, it’s just something I noticed.
Overall this disc, like the film, comes Highly Recommended. While it’s a shame we couldn’t have gotten the robust two-disc released in the UK, this Region 1 release will satisfy most fans of the film (and the die-hard will likely import the two disc edition anyway).
Hot Fuzz arrives on DVD in widescreen and full screen editions, as well as on HD-DVD, on July 31st.