Hot Fuzz

(2007) *** R
121 min. Rogue Pictures. Director: Edgar Wright. Cast: Jim Broadbent, Nick Frost, Timothy Dalton, Edward Woodward, Simon Pegg.

Consult the Anglophiles you know, and they just may tell you that the team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are the best thing to happen to the British film industry since Richard Curtis. After making his name for penning the Britcom Black Adder, Curtis moved on to big-screen rom-coms like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary, and Love Actually. The next-generation Wright and Pegg collaborated on the Britcom Spaced before making an international splash with the rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy) Shaun of the Dead.

Wright and Pegg are known for their pop culture savvy and irreverent humor. Their new film, like Shaun, finds Wright directing, Pegg starring, and the two co-authoring the script. Hot Fuzz is a spoof of buddy-cop movies crossed with a parody of English horror (to say which film in particular would give away the twist, but the genre tweaking allows the duo again to indulge in squeamishly comical gore). Pegg plays severe, by-the-book London police sergeant Nicholas Angel, a cop so perfect that he horribly embarrasses his mediocre colleagues.

Relegated to "rural policing" in a small village, Angel is aghast at his small-potatoes duties and his slovenly new partner, PC Danny Butterman (Nick Frost of Shaun and Spaced). In the shadow of his father the police chief (Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, doing an amusing provincial accent), Danny fanaticizes over cop movies. Seeing in Nicholas a reflection of his cinematic heroes, Danny can't believe his new partner hasn't seen Bad Boys 2 and Point Break, two of the many films Hot Fuzz amusingly pastiches.

The number of targets at which Hot Fuzz aims makes the film endearingly overstuffed. It's also a curiously high-strung movie, thanks to its easily annoyed leading man and an editing scheme patterned on Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. If, at a full two hours, all the movie geekery becomes a bit wearying, it's a fair trade for a comedy with some genuine chops and a pleasing sense of the absurd, inclusive of a swan on the loose, an imposed night at the am-dram version of Romeo and Juliet (Baz Luhrmann-style), or the allusive epithet "By the power of Greyskull!"

Best of all is the cast, led by the practiced chemistry and crack-timing of Pegg and Frost. The supporting cast is a veritable who's who of British screen: former Bond Timothy Dalton is on hand as a suave baddie, and Stuart Wilson, Edward Woodward and Billie Whitelaw are among the veteran thesps who play villagers. Comedy stars Steve Coogan, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Steven Merchant, and Bill Bailey also pass through in brief roles. As always, Wright keeps the action moving to a tasteful pop-rock soundtrack and leaves no stone unturned, whether it's the homoeroticism of buddy-cop movies or the silly lengths to which plots will go to squeeze in an explosion.

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Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 9/22/2009

Distributor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

When Universal calls its latest release of Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright's most recent film Hot Fuzz: Ultimate Edition, they are not kidding around, people. Fans frustrated by the DVD double-dip may not go for a triple-dip here, but they probably should. Certainly first-time adopters will be glad they waited for this definitive edition, with everything previously available wedded to a high-def A/V presentation.  The blazingly colorful, sharp and detailed image wipes the floor with the DVD, creating a depth that's very pleasing to the eye. The powerful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix delivers wall-shaking action effects as well as crystal-clear and well-balanced dialogue tracks, guaranteeing that even the British-dialect impaired will have nary a trouble.

The bonuses start with five—count 'em, five—commentary tracks: commentary with writer/actor Simon Pegg and writer/director Edgar Wright; commentary with "The Sandford Police Service": Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon, and Olivia Colman; commentary with writer/director Edgar Wright and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino; commentary with "The Sandford Village People": Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman, & Edward Woodward; and commentary with "The Real Fuzz": Andy Leafe & Nick Eckland. Cream of the crop are the two commentaries with Wright, paired with the two guys most likely to get him talking excitably.

The Fuzzball Rally—Uncut (1:11:09, SD) is an awesome feature-length doc following Wright, Pegg, and Frost on their four-week, ten-city "Personal Appearance" tour. The doc comes with optional commentary by Wright, Pegg, Frost, & Joe Cornish.

U-Control offers Fuzz-o-Meter, a pop-up trivia track, and Storyboards, embedded as picture-in-picture complement to the scenes they depict.

The Evidence Room overflows with bonuses. Making-of doc "Conclusive: We Made Hot Fuzz" (29:34, SD) includes behind-the-scenes B-roll and extensive cast and crew interviews. "Speculative: Video Blogs" (29:55 with "Play All" option, SD) comprises thirteen featurettes on various aspects of production. "Forensic: Featurettes" (44:54 with "Play All" option, SD) similarly gathers eight featurettes on yet more behind-the-scenes topics. Photographic: Galleries includes a Poster Gallery and a Photo Gallery, both in HD. "Hearsay: Plot Holes & Comparisons" begins with "Plot Holes" (3:23, SD), which recreates story points cut from the film by use of narrated sketches, and continues into "Comparisons, Special Effects: Before & After" (6:21 with "Play All" option, SD), an eight-part feature showing the evolution of the special effects sequences.

A sub-section of The Evidence Room concerns Edgar Wright's first cop movie, from 1993, "Dead Right" (40:12, SD). Wright's introduction explains he made the film on S-VHS when he was 18 years old. With mock self-importance, Wright also includes "AM BLAM: Making 'Dead Right'" (10:29, SD) and two commentary tracks for "Dead Right," one with Wright and one with Wright and Pegg.

The disc continues to floweth over with "The Man Who Would Be Fuzz" (0:34, SD), a wonderfully silly onset goof; TV/airplane censored footage "Hot Funk" (3:43, SD); and "Danny's Notebook: The Other Side" (0:21, SD), spotlighting bonus flip-book animation. Additional Video Blogs begin with VW Blogs (21:29 with "Play All" option, SD): "4 Cars," "Meet the Makers," "Join the Fuzz," "In for Questioning," and "On Duty." Then come four iTunes Blogs (16:30 with "Play All" option, SD). Some of the material from U-Control appears in a different form as eleven Storyboard Galleries (HD): "Extreme Service," "Administrative Decision," "Hard Goodbye," "Tough Distance," "Deep Evening," "Sudden Morning," "Village Force," "Avian Breakout," "Maximum Running," and "Sham Dram."

"Inadmissible: Deleted Scenes" (20:37, SD), serves up twenty-two deleted scenes with optional commentary by Wright. We get a set of "Outtakes" (10:22, SD), the "Theatrical Trailer" (2:33, SD), two UK "TV Spots" (both 0:33, SD), and the "Director's Cut Trailer" (0:59, SD). Lastly, Universal enables Hot Fuzz for BD-Live and D-Box.

With a Blu-ray disc like this, you'll feel as if you made the movie yourself after exploring its hours of extras.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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