By Doug Thompson
“Hot Fuzz” is the “Blazing Saddles” of its kind, only better.
They say that once a movie genre can be successfully spoofed, it’s no longer commercially viable. If that cliché were true, there wouldn’t be another car-chase big-explosion cop movie made for the rest of this century.
“Hot Fuzz” is so good – although not for everyone – I’m writing about it even though the last theater in the area showing it was scheduled to stop before this column comes out. Look for it on DVD.
Most spoofs are obviously clowning around. Satires are more biting and insightful. “Hot Fuzz” is a spoof of the “Lethal Weapon” genre of blazing-gun cop buddy pictures that’s more biting and insightful than good satire.
Fans of those very popular cop buddy movies would leave this one feeling insulted, and not vaguely. “Hot Fuzz” is not deliberately nasty so much as nonchalantly merciless in its very professional, talented ridicule of action movie clichés. This movie is no homage, but the authors know their subject. There’s also bountiful blood, which many viewers will find out of place in a comedy.
The premise is that the hero is such a good policemen (oops, I’m sorry: officer), he makes every other officer in London look bad. So he’s shuffled away to the English countryside version of Mayberry, where nothing ever happens.
The village is perfect – too perfect. He soon learns that his new beat has the lowest crime rate in England but the highest fatal “accident” statistics of anywhere, with reason.
The movie makes a mockery of the obligatory pieces-coming-together of police movies and the “there’s a coven in this peaceful village” staple of British movies popular since “The Wicker Man,” if not before.
Our hero concludes a brilliant investigation that pieces it all together, only to find out his careful construct is wrong. The scene where the banality and good intentions of the murders is explained to him is priceless.
One of the enormous pleasures of this show, even if you don’t have a soft spot for British humor, is watching a very good cast of Britons play this job with aplomb. I couldn’t remember where I’d seen the actor who played the old coot on the police force until later. Then I realized I’d last seen him portraying Cato, the senator, on the HBO production of “Rome.” Another villager played Pompey in the same production.
Any actress who can portray a polite but sour English innkeeper and a homicidal maniac as well as Billie Whitelaw does in this movie deserves an award of some kind. So does Timothy Dalton. The James Bond alumnus proves he can do comedy, a far greater acting challenge than playing Bond.
Jim Broadbent is simply perfect as the police chief.
All this funny stuff leads up to a long ending of flawlessly performed ultra-violence worthy of any action movie. When the hero rides in – literally, rides in on a horse – wearing what looks like a quarter-ton worth of weaponry, he looks all the world like an samurai out of a Kurosawa movie taken forward in time.
You’ll either like the ending or you won’t. There’s not much middle ground. To me, the sight of seeing proper English types shooting it out before ending it all in a car chase was an absolute hoot. The scene where the hero and the escaping villains empty pistol clips at each other at about 10 yards range, neither hitting the other, is classic.
There’s even a Harry Potter spoof at the end, with the flying car. Be sure to watch for it.
The film’s been criticized for a too-long ending and fast-paced cuts in editing. Those who made those criticisms clearly don’t get the joke, since fact-paced cuts and brutally long endings are a staple of the movies being mocked here.
I’ve never seen this film production team’s earlier effort, “Shaun of the Dead.” I will now.
Wal-Mart trending tech
If you are a mid-sized company with all your inventory in high-end tech goodies like plasma screen TVs, I-pods, computers, phones, well, now is the time to be scared – very scared. Now that the Wal-Mart Shareholders annual session is beyond us here in NWA, an all out assault on the tech sector has been announced. Wal-Mart and Dell are teaming up for a run at the computer biz, so what else can be far behind? Already every Wal-Mart store in America (and overseas one would imagine as well) has been reconfigured to promote high-end electronics (those with tags of $500 or more) and other electronic gadgets. Daddy W. predicts that even some of the big box electronic warehouse stores that think they can compete with Wal-Mart, need to think again. In the future, the phone, computer, I-pod, music, movie and personal electronic communication market will soon be run through Bentonville, Ark., U.S.A. Daddy W. guarantees it.
Rumors are swirling that the old Captain D’s on the corner of North College Avenue and Sycamore Street is up for sale – again. It’s been vacant a long time and is beginning to look very run down. It’s just one of several restaurants on North College that are out of business and empty.
DIG, DIG, BUILD, BUILD
Looks like some dirt is finally being moved around on the site of Fayetteville’s big downtown eyesore. A little bit of activity was seen at the old Mountain Inn site across from the Federal Building. What’s been the hold up and is that grand hotel that was promised ever going to be built?
Well, maybe not after the bids came in. Springdale has had some higher-than-expected costs in the construction of the new professional baseball stadium. So they are gonna cut back on some party sites and high-dollar suites. Looks like the only reason to cut back on high-dollar suites is if there are no sponsors in place. Did they really undersell what they have proposed?
News that the Divinity Hotel project on Dickson Street won’t be built met with mixed reviews. The deal went down apparently not over a lawsuit, but economics. Daddy hears the developer, The Barber Group, has had some slow sales of other properties. That’s the bottom line.
DIXIE DEVELOPMENT BLUES
Even Dr. Ben Israel, the eye-doctor turned commercial developer, has been scaling back on his ventures. Yes, Dixie Development announced some scaling back – again – due to economic conditions. It’s getting tougher and tougher out there for builders and developers.
KOOL AID PICKLE
We are hearing that a tasty treat of the Delta – a Kool Aid infused pickle – will soon be sold on Dickson Street. The sugary, vinegary treat is something else. Daddy W. says watch for them in a bevy of colors. But red, Daddy W. hears, is the best.
OLD POST OFFICE REDUX
Daddy hears there may be a new tenant for the Old Post Office in downtown Fayetteville. Good luck. Many have come, few have survived. It is a great spot, just no parking. A good lunch crowd, but after 5 forget it.