The very first film at Cinema 1544, presented by Troy Crowder, was Shaun of the Dead – which turns out to be the first film of the somewhat (but not entirely) tongue-in-cheek Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. I bring this up because for her own very first Cinema 1544 film, Jenny Mohn selected the second film in the trilogy – Hot Fuzz, like the others directed by Edgar Wright. If symmetry has anything to say about things, this means that the very last film of the Cinema 1544 series (and the 585th film overall) will be The World’s End, presented sometime in early 2027. Seems destined.
But in the meantime, let’s talk about Hot Fuzz (which always has sounded like some sort of mulled peach schnapps drink to me).
Nicholas Angel (pictured, but from behind) is just about the baddest-ass cop in all of London. So bad-ass, in fact, that he has been “promoted” and concomitantly shipped off to the lazy rural hamlet of Sandford (long-reigning winner of the Village of the Year award) just so the rest of the city’s cops (or bobbies, or constables, or fuzz, or whatever they are) don’t look so bad in comparison. It’s downright career murder, really.
The entire situation is so distressing to Angel that on his first night in town, rather than sack up quietly in his hotel, he heads out to the local pub and busts several teenagers for underage drinking – as well as nailing a boorish slob for a DUI. Angel’s initiative is taken in with less than full enthusiasm by the local police, who see their town as a sleepy place where nothing particularly important ever happens. The kids are quietly released, and the DUI slob – well naturally he turns out to be…
…Danny Butterman, son of the police chief and Angel’s new partner in crime fighting. Danny is just as useless as he seems, though his cop-action-movie fetish does give him a little bit of the googly eyes for Angel. “Have you ever fired two guns whilst jumping through the air?” he asks Angel, only to lower the bar a few times after Angel answers in the disappointing negative.
But despite the sleepy nature of the village, after a series of suspicious accidents start taking out local actors, a wealthy sot, and a journalist who appears to be trying to tell our hero something important, Angel begins to believe quite thoroughly (to the ridicule of the remaining police) that there is a conspiracy afoot in Sandford after all. And when he witnesses a mysterious cloaked figure murder the local flower shop lady shortly after she told him she was selling her shop to big city business interests, Angel constructs an elaborate theory about how the local grocery owner Skinner is leading a scheme to buy up property that may soon become valuable due to an upcoming bypass project. Again, the local cops scoff at this theory.
And, in fact, it turns out to be wrong. Not that there’s no conspiracy, mind you. It’s just that the conspiracy in fact involves not only Skinner but just about every major local figure (including the police chief in a primary role), and that the conspiracy has nothing to do with a bypass and everything to do with draconian efforts to win the Village of the Year award yet again. The actors? Hacks. The sot? His huge house doesn’t fit in with the scheme of the village. The journalist? Too many spelling errors in his headlines, can’t have that.
Seriously. This is actually just about the creepiest conspiracy ever, because it’s almost believable.
With Angel on their scent, the local conspirators attempt to do away with him (just as they have – permanently – done away with the riff-raff of the town, including but not limited to the underage drinkers Angel nailed and Angel’s predecessor, who apparently caught a similar whiff of the felonious activity in the town). Angel, however, is saved by Danny – who is not in on the conspiracy, probably because he’s a bit too dim to be trusted.
Naturally, Angel comes back and armed to the teeth, he and Danny take on the local conspirators in what is probably the most comically action-packed end sequence to result in zero actual deaths. Well, OK, one – in the aftermath of the whole thing a hidden conspirator attacks and accidentally ends up blowing himself up (and the entire police station – in another implausible moment the remainder of the occupants emerge only partially scathed) by setting off an old undersea mine that was confiscated earlier in the film. And, outside of the obvious “one year later” bookend that tries to make you think that Danny has died only to turn happy (hmm…see Shaun of the Dead for a similar bookend involving the same actors!) the film is, at this point, over.
I don’t really care about the film straining credulity at points – I mean, it’s not really about hyper-realism. But I do want my narrative to be at least a bit consistent. So when it turns out that the pub owners who so very nonchalantly didn’t seem to care about the local kids drinking underage (the same local kids who were subsequently “disappeared” by the police chief to preserve the image of the town) turn out to ALSO be conspirators, it kind of bugs me. I mean, they’re in on the “murder all the petty criminals” thing but don’t take any steps to discourage said petty criminal activity, going so far as to even foster it? This little bit doesn’t compute. Still, if that’s the downside to the film, and it makes you laugh out loud a few times, then I guess it’s a win over all.