Hot Fuzz (2007)

I regret having to push back this movie review request for as long as I did but I wanted to try to go in order that I received the requests. Today’s movie came as a request by my friend Chris, inspired by my earlier review of Shaun of the Dead. This movie is Hot Fuzz. Another Edgar Wright instant classic, Hot Fuzz stars Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Harry Potter’s Jim Broadbent, one of many James Bond’s Timothy Dalton, with brief appearances by chin-tacles himself Bill Nighy and Tropic Thunder’s Steve Coogan.

In Hot Fuzz, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the best police officer in London. His superiors, played by Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy, decide that he’s making the rest of the London Police Force look bad with his superiority and ship him off to the small, quiet town of Sandford. Bringing only his Japanese peace lily with him, he arrives in Sandford and shortly arrests an entire bar full of children for underage drinking as well as another drunken man for attempting to drive drunk. The next morning it turns out that drunk driver was not only a police officer, but is Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), son of the police chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent). Angel is instantly thrown off by the way police work is handled in the small town, finding that problems in the police station are handled by that person having to buy cake and ice cream for the station, as well as having a swear jar. Soon, a series of gruesome accidents start happening around the town and Angel, being unable to shut off his high-functioning police brain, believes they are linked to a conspiracy. Everyone else swears they are simple accidents, as a murder hasn’t been recorded in Sandford for years. Pegg and Frost are teamed up and almost instantly start to influence each other, Frost trying to become a better policeman officer like Pegg, and Pegg trying to go to bars and watch action movies to shut off his brain like Frost. Pegg finally loses his cool when the super-suspicious owner of the local supermarket, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), becomes too obvious of a suspect in these “accidents”, and Angel finally confronts him with the evidence he’s collected, only to be trumped and embarrassed by the surveillance videos of Skinner in the store at the time. After an attempt on his life, Angel finds that he is both right and wrong. The accidents were not accidents, but the scheme is far stranger than he imagined.

There is a chance that I went too deep into the spoilers with that description, but it’s such a good movie I couldn’t stop myself. Also, the enjoyment is not in the dumbed down story, but in watching it. When trying to think if I like this movie more or less than Shaun of the Dead, I think I give the edge to Shaun only because I prefer zombie lore to action movies. But there are many similarities beyond the two stars and director. Wright’s use of quick, action film-inspired cuts in the editing process work equally as well in this movie as in Shaun. This editing method even makes the oft times ignored part of police work, the paperwork, seem interesting and action-packed. And the Pegg/Wright combination brings back another part of Shaun that I loved: the fences! No wait … I mean the callbacks. In both Shaun and Hot Fuzz, the end of the movie pays off with a lot of callbacks to minor, possibly ignored things from earlier. For someone with a horrible memory such as mine, that just means that the second time it’s viewed will be much more enjoyable than the first, and the first does not go wanting.

This movie wins in both the action and comedy sections that it can be placed in. Over the top situations and improbable fight scenes are abound in this movie. And no one could shake a stick at the comedy dialogue. The “God rest ‘im” speech alone – once you know what I mean – is worth watching the movie for alone. All of the writing is great here. Most action movies suffer from predictability, and for a while, it seems that this one will as well, with Timothy Dalton being so over the top and obvious in his portrayal of the evil antagonist that, by the time Angel is laying out his evidence, it’s a foregone conclusion. When it turns out it’s not him, it’s surprising. When it turns out it is him again, but nowhere near for the reason you thought, your mind is blown.

I have no complaints for this movie.

So, this movie is great. You should have both this and Shaun in your collection, or at least in your heart, or I will never like you that much. How can you not like a movie where your protagonist drop kicks a little old lady right in the face?! EXACTLY! Don’t watch this movie, go own it. I’m serious. I know who you are. I give this movie a “Great big bushy beard!” out of “Old lady’s broken nose”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.

American Outlaws (2001)

Since I asked for requests for movies to review, I feared this moment. That moment is the time when a friend would ask me to review a movie that they love and then I watch it to find it completely mediocre. Oh well, my integrity is worth too much to hold back. Today’s movie review is of the movie American Outlaws, starring Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Kathy Bates, and Timothy Dalton.

This movie starts with the James Brothers, Frank (Gabriel Macht) and Jesse (Colin Farrell), entrenched in the Civil War with Cole Younger (Scott Caan) and others. Well they have their backs against the wall but, worry not, Jesse James is a super hero. With his expert marksman brother Frank taking out people, Jesse rides around like a madman cycling through the 6 revolvers he has strapped to him and just takes out a giant portion of the North with their rag-tag gang of about 6 dudes. Then they find out that General Lee has surrendered at Appomattox and the war is over. Relieved, they go back home to their ranch. But alas, all is not well on the home front. The corrupt railroad people along with Allan Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) are trying to force their people off their land, but the James Brothers will have none of it and run the people off. Cole was not so lucky, killing 2 deputies and getting arrested. But SuperJesse and his untouchable gang rescue him. The railroad retaliates by blowing up their houses and killing Momma James (Kathy Bates). The James’ and the Youngers form a gang and rob all the banks holding the railroad’s money. Then other stuff happens. The end.

Now, I like a good western. I can even tolerate a chick-flick if it’s good enough. But apparently the odd combination of the two doesn’t strike me very well, and that’s what this movie went with. It has all the classic western moments, then makes them a little silly and a lot over-the-top, and throws a love story with Ali Larter in there. An action movie allows for a certain degree of weak story and impossible situations for their hero, but this movie takes it a little too far. Take, for instance, when about 50 guys have the gang trapped in a bank, Jesse gets his 2 pals behind a table, jumps up with his dual six-shooters, rolls over a table while firing and seemingly not missing once, then diving through glass, leaving only about 3 enemies standing, seemingly wondering to themselves “How the hell did that just happen?” Then Jesse jumps through a window, grabs dynamite from his horse’s saddle, dives back in, and then proceeds to blow his way through the walls of the buildings and very quickly placing the dynamite so that a bunch of overly lucky explosions take out almost all of the enemy and they ride out of town, unscathed but for the unimportant character that gets shot on the way out.

And now for a couple of specific problems. I never felt the need to see Colin Farrell and Scott Caan mud wrestle. I’m not sure that any proposal to a woman you want to marry should first make her depressed because you’re acting like you’ve fallen in love with someone else but then “SURPRISE! It was you I was talking about! Thank God I threw that out there before you opened your veins, right?” Also, Jesse is such the Superman that they forgot by the time he went shirtless swimming with Ali Larter (him shirtless, not her) that he should probably have a scar on his shoulder from when he was almost mortally wounded earlier in the movie.

Basically, this movie is not for me. I like a good western, one that is gritty and awesome and realistic. Take a look at your Tombstones or your True Gritses. And if you’re so desperate for it to be all about Jesse James, you could probably see the movie that this movie tried to swagger jack (Young Guns) or a movie better than both of those, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. If you’d rather see Superman in the west with a touch of chick-flick, this is your movie. But it’s not mine. All in all, I give it a total and complete “meh” out of 2.