The Greatest Movie Ever?

January 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm (Horror, Humor, Movies)

Yes, I have now added a new film to my list of “the greatest movies of all time.” But I warn you in advance, it’s no Casablanca. Hot Fuzz, written by and starring Simon Pegg (the guy from Shaun of the Dead), should be on the wish lists of anyone who claims to like mystery, horror, comedy and absurdly-over-the-top action (really, all four are best, but if you score at least three, it’s worth looking into). It is essentially three movies in one: A creepy mystery, a hard-boiled action thriller, and a brilliant comedy that skewers both genres through and through. And surprisingly, it actually manages to succeed at all three.

Simon Pegg plays the super-cop whose unswerving devotion to law has not only destroyed his relationship with his girlfriend, but has made him the enemy of his underperforming coworkers. In order to get rid of him, they reassign him to the safest village in all of England. Or is it? If you’ve ever watched a cop drama, you’re already reciting the predictable plot steps: the surprise romance, the unsolved mystery, the moment of truth where the troubled protagonist finally becomes the inspiring hero. And they’re all there, but I promise you’ve never seen them like this before. One of the reasons that Hot Fuzz is so hilarious is its absolute loyalty to the genre conventions, at the same time that it turns them on its head. For example, the occasional appearances of the hooded killer are actually very creepy, rather than campy. One way that the director does this is to make abrupt switches between scenes and locations that ratchet the tension way up (for example, the scene of the name-drawing at the town fair). The action scenes are truly amazing, not because of how they stretch the genre (like The Matrix did), but because of how they twist the genre; the gun battle that begins Act III is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest gunfights since the end of the Wild Bunch, and had me laughing and cheering with adrenaline at the same time. I liked it so much that I actually sat down two nights later and watched the movie again. I never do that.

So, if you like any of the genres I’ve talked about above, or if you just like seeing a film that is cerebral at the very same time that it is visceral, then I strongly suggest that you stick Hot Fuzz in your queue, or however you get your movies these days. I’m already labeling it as the best movie I’ve seen in 2008. Not that that’s saying a lot, but I’m expecting it to hold the title at least until May 22. Y’all know what happens on May 22, don’t you?

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