Here we are with another Edgar Wright title, and as my hero of a director, I have to say that this was difficult to narrow down. This is a part of the now quite famous Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, which also included 'Shaun of the Dead' three years prior, and 'The World's End' a whole six years later. I was very close to making this a sort of "cheat" and including all three of those films, as that trilogy is sort of what seals the deal for Edgar Wright being my all-time favourite director. Although the comedy is similar all the way through, the themes and ideas are very different.
So with all due respect, don't be too surprised if I lean into the other two movies a little bit during this write-up. 'Hot Fuzz', however, does win out as the best of the three as most opinions seem to go, and it's not hard to understand why. Something like 'Shaun of the Dead' is still a zombie movie and, nowadays, lends itself to the oversaturation of the genre. Although being released not only the same year but just one month after the remake of 'Dawn of the Dead' was perfect planning or an astonishing coincidence that made 'Shaun' just that much better for its time. As for 'The World's End', it's an incredibly strange and imaginative sci-fi comedy that I really think will require a certain taste. 'Hot Fuzz' is, to put it simply, a buddy cop comedy that pays homage to the genre in a big way.
If I were to introduce anyone to Edgar Wright through his films, this is where I'd begin. A buddy cop movie is something everyone is very familiar with, and you don't need to flex your imagination too much to go with it. In fact, the film makes a point of showing us an A-side and B-side in which the A-side is much more realistic and the B-side is where we get a full tribute to the high-octane cop action flicks we all love. It helps that some of the best action movie titles out there are about cops or law enforcement in some way shape or form. 'Beverly Hills Cop', 'Die Hard', 'Bad Boys', 'Lethal Weapon', '48 Hours', 'Point Break' there has been something for everyone, and this is a film that sort of bows to the genre with a great amount of respect.
Going back to Wright as a director, and using this as a "first-timer" for anyone curious to see his material, I'd further say that this is a great example of seeing his style. He's quick. He sets things up, gets to the point with little to no effort, and makes damn sure that the audience is having a good laugh every step of the way. At the head of the film is Nicolas Angel (Simon Pegg), which begins to show another bit of Wright's style - naming things, shall we say, appropriately. Beginning with Angel, he's the picture-perfect cop here, abiding by the law perfectly, and being the best of the best of the London Police Force - that is until he starts making everyone look bad by being too good, and getting shipped off to the small town of Sandford, Gloucestershire.
In Sanford, he meets his partner, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost); an action-movie-obsessed, somewhat bumbling cop who loves to hit up the pub after hours. Together, the pair try to unravel a mystery involving several murders throughout the town. But while Angel is so sure of so much, the rest of the crew has a tendency to shrug these matters off as simple accidents, insisting pretty much that sometimes "shit happens". In some regards, something like this hits very close to home when you take into consideration where I live, my proximity to where the Paul Bernardo/Karla Homolka murders took place, and the evident ignorance of a LOT of the cops involved in the case (learned through a True Crime podcast).
Although this is definitely a three-way combo between comedy, action and mystery, it's interesting that it doesn't hold back on several other elements as well. For example, with a good and surprising share of blood and gore, along with several dark scenes, there's definitely a horror element to this as well. It's a great example of a movie that has something for everyone - especially if you're already a fan of buddy cop films going into it. For as much as I love 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'The World's End', they are much more stand-alone titles that require a certain mind-set, but with 'Hot Fuzz', I feel like anyone can give it a chance and at least enjoy it for its good time - especially the final act, which is mind-blowing the first time you ever see it.
I wouldn't mind covering a lot of the British actors that pop up in this all over the place, but I'll be running on far too long, so I'll just link this page. Chances are, there will be a few recognizable names for you. This movie has so much talent behind it, and it's THE one of the three 'Cornetto' titles I don't mind throwing on any old time. But that's not to knock 'Shaun' or 'World's End' down either. If you watch this and love it, I'd say check out the other two as well. It really doesn't matter what order, as they're all separate stories. But I'm going to recommend this as a first-timer for anyone curious about Edgar Wright's overall style (this or 'Baby Driver', which is also quite awesome). If you're at all into the fun of action movie cliches and can appreciate a hell of a lot of homages (apparently over 100 films inspired this!), then definitely check this title out!