Monday, February 15, 2010

Favorite Movies of the Past Nine Years - #6

#6 - Hot Fuzz (2007)

I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a police officer... apart from the summer of 1979 when I wanted to be Kermit the Frog.
- Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg)

This is likely to be the most 'controversial' entry on this list, assuming anybody cares.

Of the ten films on this list, six are on the IMDB top 250. (If you want a partial spoiler of the films to come, the seven on the IMDB list are, ranked in order of the films released from 2001-2009: #2, #4, #5, #7, #13, and #25). The four not on this list are this one, and three films already covered: The King of Kong at #7 (a documentary), Sky High at #8 (a Disney film), and Presto at #10 (an animated short). So in that sense the pick is at least in part defensible.

Those who feel inclined to argue, however, will wonder why this Simon Pegg movie is the one that makes my list. After all, 'Star Trek' has Pegg, is also on the IMDB 250, and is a sci-fi movie that, based on my preferences thus far, you'd think I'd have liked. (I did, not just enough to get it into the top ten.) Or, if not that one, Pegg's best-known film, the George-S-Romero-homage 'Shaun of the Dead', is also in the IMDB 250 and considered by many critics to be one of the best genre-bending films ever, not just of the decade.

The latter is the reason why I rank 'Hot Fuzz' higher. 'Shaun' was a very funny, yet very faithful Horatian satire of 'Dawn of the Dead'. 'Hot Fuzz', meanwhile, was also very funny, but a much more Juvenalian satire of not just one but two genres: the murder mystery, and the 'buddy cop' film. (One could argue that Pegg and his co-writer Edgar Wright are also satirizing the 'hard boiled detective' genre of literature and film, but I consider the 'buddy cop' movie to be an heir to many of the Chandlerian traditions of the earlier 'hard boiled' genre.) Regardless, the film is far more ambitious than 'Shaun', and thus deserves praise for that.

But this isn't a list of my 'most admired' films of the past nine years; I very much enjoyed the degree of skewering of the traditional tropes of both the murder mystery and the buddy cop film, particularly the reveal of the mastermind(s) and the reasons for their murderous activities. If you found this reveal disappointing, all I can say is that you must have been expecting the movie to play it straight -- and why would you think that given everything that went before?

If this 'review' seems deliberately vague, well, it is -- 'Hot Fuzz' is available for instant viewing via Netflix and is probably sitting in the bargain bin at your local video store, and I'd hate to ruin someone's appreciation for the degree to which this film tickled exactly the ideosyncratic and contrarian bits of my personality. Go, see it, then come back and explain why you did or didn't like it.

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