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How ‘Hot Fuzz’ Breathed Life Into The Buddy Flick

Where to Stream

Hot Fuzz

The buddy film has been a fixture in cinema since before the 1930s; put together an odd couple, throw in a couple obstacles, have them learn to trust each other, and let the shenanigans ensue. In the beginning, comedy duos like Abbott & Costello and Laurel & Hardy took the silver screen by storm, and by the 1960s and 1970s, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor had emerged as an iconic buddy duo. It’s not to say that the history of the film hasn’t had its issues; misogyny and race dynamics have certainly been problematic within the genre, but over time, Hollywood has gradually caught up. Flicks like Thelma & LouiseRush HourThe HeatKiss Kiss Bang Bang, and more put women, people of color, and gay characters at the center of their narratives. The genre’s come a long way, and the new spins on it prove more exciting with each release.

The reason why we’re here, however, is to talk about one buddy film in particular. Now ten years old, Edgar Wright‘s Hot Fuzz took every good thing about the genre and put it into a delightfully demented blender. The result was a damn near perfect film; as the second flick in Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, it again put Simon Pegg and Nick Frost together as our central odd couple, but instead of fighting zombies, they’re taking on the criminal underbelly of a small village in rural England.

In many ways, Hot Fuzz is a traditional buddy cop comedy; Pegg acts as the uptight straight man, an overachieving police officer from London named Nicholas Angel who reluctantly transfers to Sanford, Gloucestershire after he’s informed that he’s doing so well that he’s making his colleagues look bad, while Frost is Danny Butterman, the goofy, complacent comedic relief, constantly on his way to the pub or rattling on about his love for action and buddy films. The set-up is simple – and then it isn’t. Wright is a master of taking on genre conventions and making them his own, and Hot Fuzz is no different. It directly references the films it’s inspired by; Bad Boys II and Point Break act as a point of bonding for Nicholas and Danny and eventually inspire Nicholas to go full bad-ass. It is a classic cop action film; Nicholas needs Danny’s help to adjust to small town life, while Danny needs Nicholas’ help to take himself seriously. This take on the formula is smart, slick, and has a lot of heart. The action sequences are just as thrilling as any other genre staple, but there’s a sense of physical comedy combined with a killer script (and soundtrack) that elevates Hot Fuzz to an entirely new place.

Hot Fuzz succeeds because it is wholly and entirely self-aware. The pacing is quick, sharp, and absolutely uproarious – when Nicholas and Danny banter, it’s a total treat. Wright understands how to perfectly balance action, comedy, drama, and suspense, and it pays off; the film goes from hilarious physical sequences involving chasing a swan to the discovery of a cult conspiracy and a poor woman being murdered with garden shears without skipping a beat. Characters of a geriatric nature are given guns to wield and use the filthiest of language. The one woman on the police force has the most delectably crass sense of humor of the lot. The film is delightfully, brilliantly satirical, and a stunning homage to the flicks that came before it. The buddy cop genre is one that’s easily tired because of the volatile nature of the formula, but Hot Fuzz found a way to utilize script, editing, and performances to produce a thrilling example of just how great the buddy flick can be – a triumph that we’re still celebrating ten years later.

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