B. Alan checks out the latest from those Shaun of the Dead guys
Movieweb didn't send me to the Hot Fuzztival. I went on my own volition. Because, just like you, I loved Shaun of the Dead. It hit big with the self-appointed "above you" film sods that suck in geekbait like oxygen and cling to it for life. We're all zombie fans, aren't we? And these Shaun guys nailed every perfect beat of the genre. Better, I think, than Romero did when he returned to form a few months later with George A. Romero's Land of the Dead. Everyone who saw Shaun out of the gate became instantly infatuated with its creators and stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. The love is, to this day, a slobbering drool pool of lust and saliva. I believe I speak for every member of the movie militia when I say, after the last frame of Shaun spooled, we were ready to follow these guys anywhere. And we did. We bought a Region Free DVD player so that we could watch every episode of Spaced. We purchased Nick Frost's "Danger! 50,000 Volts!" We even bought Midnight tickets to Mission: Impossible III just so we could laugh and champion Pegg in his American Blockbuster debut. Didn't matter that he provided nothing more then a few expository lines of dialogue. We still pretended it was a whole lot more. Heck, we sat in that theater acting like he was the star of the franchise, desperately wishing he was.
It's been a long time coming...sort of...but this week finally ushers up the 3rd chapter in the Wright, Pegg, Frost book of Funcore. And, guess what, it's a way better flick than Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi. Whoop-Doo!
I tell people, "I saw Hot Fuzz the other day." And it gets the same response every time. "Was it as good as Shaun of the Dead?" I have to answer honestly, "It is, but I think I liked Shaun better." You'll be hearing that a lot. Shaun was a more personal film. On all levels. It was a more identifiable experience. Fuzz comes with a bewildering disconnect, and doesn't strike the same chords of familiarity. But on the flip side of that coin, it's a hulking mutha built like a wrought iron Nazi brothel. A sweeping fist that holds the punch until the muscle tension's so tight; it knocks all of your teeth out. From here, it clearly seems to be a flawless piece of pop art with swift Swiss timing. It is the better film in terms of technical ambience. I defiantly want to see it again. And from what I've read on various sites that saw it first, the film really pays off with repeat viewings. I can't confirm that since I'm not pretending to be friends with the film's makers. But it certainly seems to be true (I've only seen it once). It clearly strikes me as an original; a classic in the waiting. And I don't speak that lightly.
I sometimes find it pointless to explain the plot synopsis. The overall story is definitely something you should discover on your own (the current crop of TV ads be damned). All you really need to know going in is that it's a "Buddy Love" Cop Thriller Comedy in the vein of Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys II (with the gore of an Unrated Jason entry). It pays lip service to that entire sub-genre without become a parody of its self, doing something I never thought would happen in my lifetime. Hot Fuzz pays a huge mount of respect and heartbeat props to our own beloved Point Break. Let's just say it's "So hungry it could eat the ass-end out of a Rhino." This is Keanu's moment in the elector-geek spotlight and it's not just a loose tooth The Matrix shout out. You've got to love that. Who thought we'd live to see Point Break act as true inspiration for what might as well be called The Bullitt of this generation? Certainly not me, I was shocked.
According to the head of the American Cinematheque, the Hot Fuzztival was the first show to ever sell out in less than an hour. I'd like to replay the Q&A that proceeded the film, but as luck would have it I wasn't able to stay for Edgar and Co.'s post show follow-up. Those seats inside the Aero Theater hurt ass; it caused me to squirm the blood fissure. I could hardly sit there for the duration of Hot Fuzz's behemoth running time. And the lady-friend accompanying me on this Saturday diversion recently got hit in the face by a Toyota Tacoma while tooling around on her Vespa Scooter. She was in an immense amount of pain by the time closing credits slam-cracked down upon the audience. It was a tiny miracle that she made it through the screening at all. Must have been a slim bit of destiny, though, for if we hadn't gotten up to leave the exact moment things were through projecting light, we never would have seen Timothy Dalton preening like Lord Fauntleroy in some dirty Santa Monica back alley. He was waiting at the theater exit, and gave a gleefully evil wave as we passed by. The guy plays a great villain in Fuzz, and it was surreal to see him standing there, jaw intact. It was a moment just for us. The injured and bruised.
The Hot Fuzztival hit ten cities over the last two months, towing along prints of some truly classic cop flicks, including a sneak preview of the film itself. It was kind of like a rock tour, but without all the pomp. An exciting moment for all us Spaced and Shaun fans. The other tasty chunks of celluloid magic that made the tour a hit: The French Connection, Lethal Weapon, Dirty Harry, The Super Cops, Electra Glide in Blue, Bullitt, Dead & Buried, The Hidden/The Hidden 2, Infernal Affairs, To Live and Die in L.A., L.A. Confidential, Training Day, New Police Story, Freebie & the Bean, Sudden Impact, and of course Bad Boys II, one of Danny (Nick Frost) Butterman's favorite movies of all time. Lucky Los Angeles got to see John Woo's Hard Boiled and Katherine Bigalow's Point Break. For those who saw Point Break in its original theatrical run, we finally get the big pay off we've been waiting for these past 16 years in the last reel of Hot Fuzz. And it's a moment that garnered copious amounts of fevered, truly heartfelt applause. I didn't get the feeling they were cheering just because the boys were in the house.
At Edgar's request, they switched the order of films so that Point Break would play directly after Hot Fuzz. A decision that made perfect sense; and I was really looking forward to watching that movie on the big screen low these many years later, since seeing it on opening weekend back in '91. But it wasn't to be. I wasn't sad or disappointed, really. I have the DVD at home. And my ass checks never would have survived, let alone the girl's back. Hard Boiled's a whole different spotted cow. That's a movie I don't care if I ever see again. I saw it so many times when it first hit home video, back before I really even knew who John Woo was. It's burnt toast. I saw enough flying through the air while shooting two guns during the running length of Hot Fuzz to tide me over for awhile. From what I've heard, though, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the mini-Cop revival.
Hot Fuzz opens this Friday, April 20th. 4/20. Read into that what you will, but this isn't a faint hearted stoner comedy at all. In fact, your brain better be running on all cylinders before you sit down in front of its beefy structuring. You'll need to employ the utmost attention to catch every wink and reference thrown about. Heck, I was quite cognizant and I only caught the little-less-than-obvious Lethal Weapon nod and character name check. I'm sure there are a dozen things I missed. Oh, well. Maybe I'll catch them on the next go around.
Call the hookers and make some plans. You should definitely check Hot Fuzz out. Hot Fuzz: This is what it's like to truly "see a movie." When you leave the theater, you actually feel like you experienced something. A moment locked in time and space. It's not made of that squirmy indifference that usually sticks to most action comedies. It's a special dish hand crafted with love and attention to the little details. It's not about box office, its actually trying to entertain you. That can be a rare thing these days.