Tuesday, May 15, 2007
whatcha gonna do:
Right, about expectations management. There's not actually a lot to argue about with Matt over Hot Fuzz, since we agree that it's both a fun movie and inferior to Shaun of the Dead. But in the interest of colliding hardest over the least yardage: yes, it is indeed a disappointing film. I plead guilty to not managing my expectations, but if you've seen the stuff that the Hot Fuzz team have produced to date, you would be overeager yourself. Some spoilers follow -- go see the movie instead, really! -- but here goes.

The last half-hour of Hot Fuzz is a thing of beauty, replete with everything that makes Edgar Wright such a brilliant director of satire. But if you've seen Spaced, the Simon Pegg-Edgar Wright sitcom, the big jokes are really familiar. "Jumping in the air going 'Agh'" is funny. But it's a step down from the sublime absurdity of the episode of Spaced where Tim and Daisy have to escape their Chav persecutors through a mock-gunfight. I thought making that mock-gunfight a literal gunfight, and giving it a budget, would make that gag even better, as Pegg and Wright evidently did. And it's funny! But it's not funnier.

It's also hard to ignore how broad the turns are in the film, and not in a good comedic way. Unveiling Danny Butterman's DVD collection made for a good scene, but... it didn't have any impact on Nick Angel, even though the scene bills itself as a turning point for Nick. Timothy Dalton is great in Hot Fuzz, so great that his performance demands a better vehicle than the one his character actually provides. He starts off as the villain, then appears to be a red herring -- no, wait, he is the villain, never mind. Now, in Spaced and in Shaun, the big joke is that no character can recognize his or her role in a very obvious satire, but that same tone of obliviousness can't be struck when your sidekick relentlessly jawbones about Bad Boys II, and yet, there's earnest Nick. Same goes for the back-and-forth with the hotel manager or the unveiling of the coven. It works well enough when the audience is in on the satire, but not when there's reason to suspect that the main character -- or at least his sidekick -- should be as well.

None of this is to say that Hot Fuzz is bad. It's not. But it could have done with another draft or two of revisions, as Pegg, Wright and Nick Frost are capable of some amazing stuff. BitTorrent yourself the twelve episodes of Spaced and all will become clear.
--Spencer Ackerman