So once again we have survived.

Hot Fuzz

HOT FUZZ is the new British comedy picture from S. Pegg/N. Frost (lead comedy actors) and E. Wright (director). They are the same individuals responsible for SHAUN OF THE DEAD, the zombie comedy from a few years back that is known to be so potent that just the mention of it causes a boner on any film fan under the age of 27 residing within a 50′ radius, even if they don’t have the equipment.

Well, I’m gonna lose some credibility with my friends and colleagues in the nerd community by saying this, but I think these movies are a little overrated. I do not by any means think they are bad movies. They are fun movies, they have laughs, they are fairly original, and they are very sincere about their love for the genres they are paying tribute to, it’s not some Leslie Nielsen style “spoof.”

All I’m saying is, it’s not the second coming of Jesus. It’s not even the third coming of Jesus, when he is just trying to get attention. It’s not Prince coming to your house and writing songs about you for his new album. It’s just a funny comedy to watch once and then move on with your life, trying to do good deeds in the world, etc. In my opinion.

Hot FuzzI guess with SHAUN OF THE DEAD my problem is a horror purist thing. Mixing comedy and horror is like mixing dangerous chemicals. You gotta do it just right or you’re gonna end up running down the street on fire like Richard Pryor. There are very few movies that mix a high volume of laughs without dilluting the horror. I would say AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is the all time #1 perfect ratio for that mix. EVIL DEAD 2 is #2. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD comes close but the punk rockers push it too far, some comedy drips down the side and burns off the skin on the side of your hand. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is not trying to be that kind of movie, but I guess that’s the kind of movie I’m looking for. Do you want to listen to “Weird Al” Yankovic or do you want to listen to real music? That’s an unfair comparison, but I gotta speak from my heart, friends. It’s a good comedy but they put those zombies in there and it just reminds me that I’d rather be watching a real zombie movie. That’s my bias, that’s my weakness, that’s my curse. The curse of the zombie.

That said, I liked SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and I like this HOT FUZZ too. This one is a tribute to another genre close to my soul, the ’80s and ’90s action movie. Specifically they are dealing with cop movies (not as much my thing) and the two movies most directly referenced are POINT BREAK (good choice) and BAD BOYS 2 (the only movie ever made that irrefutably proves the existence of the Devil).

The gimmick is that Simon Pegg is this tough cop from London who gets transferred to a village too small for him, partners with Nick Frost as a dumbass obsessed with cop movies, and together they end up wrapped in a murder case that leads them into big over-the-top shootouts and car chases like in those movies. The story really takes it’s time, the laughs are pretty low key and infrequent for a while, but they really cleverly build up all these details that lead to the big action movie third act and it gets alot better as it approaches its destination.

The movie is not entirely pure action movie. The villain is a mysterious hooded killer, so it’s not exactly Hans Grueber or somebody. It works in a couple tributes to THE WICKER MAN and spaghetti westerns and stuff, which kind of muddies the waters. But it doesn’t get too far off track. What I really appreciate is the attention to detail in their action movie tribute. There is alot of Bruckheimer/Tony Scott type shit in the style of the movie, even though its much smaller and Britisher. Early on, even before it becomes an action movie, they have some pretty funny Avid fart parodies complete with the the door slamming and flashbulb sound effects and everything. At the end they have the perfect metallic title logo that slams on the screen. And they have lots of elements to the plot that they could’ve left out but they didn’t because they knew this is what would be done in a cop movie, so for example you gotta have about 4 fake endings and the part where it’s one year later and they go to visit a grave.

The action scenes pay tribute to that Bruckheimery style, lots of quick cuts and closeups and shit, but strangely they make the scenes more clear and therefore more exciting than some of the scenes they’re homaging. I guess they’re looking at some of the better ones too, like there’s a foot chase where they must’ve studied the foot chase in POINT BREAK for tips.

Also I gotta admit they buttered me up a little by including a copy of OUT FOR JUSTICE in a collection of cop movies that inspire the heroes. (HARD TO KILL was in there somewhere too, according to the credits.)

Anyway I’m not gonna spend too much time on this one, but it’s worth seeing.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2007 at 11:52 pm and is filed under Action, Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

73 Responses to “Hot Fuzz”

  1. Brendan Foley

    May 5th, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I guess I fall in that ‘under 27 film fan’ group because I’ve said, and stand by, my opinion that Shaun is third only to American Werewolf and Evil Dead 2 in terms of comedic horror movies. And Hot Fuzz is on the exact same level only with cops, not zombies. And I don’t know who else saw it, but Simon and Edgar’s TV show Spaced is probably the best sitcom I’ve ever seen. And then- wait is thinking about these things making me hard? Yep, I’m hard.

  2. How about the Gremlins saga? That has to fall in there somewhere. There’s no blood obviously, but those things scared the crap out of me as a kid, not to mention a lot of the lines that you don’t really pick up on the first few times. Especially in Gremlins 2.

    “As you know, sunlight poses a problem for our…ethnic group.”
    “There’s Broadway shows, we’ll have to figure out how to get tickets for those., and of course there’s the issue of street crime, but I believe we can watch that for free.”

    The greatest line though is Gerald’s from Gremlins 1.

    “Kate, you haven’t seen my new apartment.”
    “I haven’t seen your old apartment.”
    “Come on. We’re talkin’ Cable. Can we have dinner tomorrow night?”

    That has to be one of the smoothest pick-up lines ever.

    …Smooth.

  3. The brilliance of this movie is the way it gets to have its cake and eat it too. It spends the full first half mocking action/cop movies by subbornly showing what the real world is like. Sure, Pegg is a hardcore cop, but he’s not badass the way movie cops are. He’s the hardest bastard on the force, but he spends most of his time lecturing school children, doing paperwork, and chasing jaywalkers and shit. Because that’s exactly what real cops do. Then, halfway through, we begin to talk about cop movies and the obvious dissonance between the two is clarified. Finally, at the last act, Pegg jumps over a fence to kick an old lady in the face, and its on. They get to parody movie cops AND actually successfully use their conventions to make it exciting.

    So they get to have their fun three ways, and it somehow stacks up to a successful movie. Only ADAPTATION gives it competition in postmodern layer-hopping successfully, and in fact, I think HOT FUZZ might make the trasitions a little more gracefully. I know Vern’s not too hot on these guys, but I think they’re fucking brilliant.

  4. Subtlety,

    I’ve thought of the ADAPTATION/HOT FUZZ connection in the past as well, and am frankly a much bigger HOT FUZZ fan.

    I guess the difference is that HOT FUZZ is structured in such a way that it’s meta-commentary/movie-movie finale is satisfying, whereas ADAPTATION’s is disappointing. ADAPTATION mocks and scoffs at the cliches of mainstream cinema, using them ironically in the final act in a manner that I felt was dramatically unsatisfying, and that didn’t live up to the promise of the earlier scenes. Whereas HOT FUZZ is more of an acknowledgment of the joys of action movies; after poking fun at the cliches, the final act is an affirmation of their pleasures.

  5. I fucking love this movie. All the symmetry in the script is really mind-boggling. Every little thing comes back, no matter how tiny. It’s a really anal way to make a comedy, but it somehow never feels fussy like, say, Napoleon Dynamite. There’s some real life going on in there, particularly in the relationship between the two partners. If that VERN’S APPEALS PROCESS program had become a reality, I’d recommend this one for it, because I was slightly disappointed the first time I saw it but grew to love it more and more every time I watched it as I noticed all of the fiddly bits in the margins. Sometimes that stuff only matters if you already love the movie, but somehow it made the film better as a whole.

  6. Dan – I totally agree with you on ADAPTATION. I thought it was very funny when Donald takes over and starts writing this silly cliche plot, and then I started to think, “OK, joke’s over, right?” Nope. The whole last act is a cute meta-joke which unfortunately then tries to pretend its an actual ending. Its an odd misstep by Kaufman, who doesn’t often make mistakes. I think maybe the problem was actually Spike Jonze directing the end as if its supposed to be satisfying — I have a hard time imagining that Kaufman would have imagined it that way, but who knows. Maybe that’s part of the joke, but leaving a terrific film without an actual ending of any kind is pretty unsatisfying, even if its to make a point. It would be like if HOT FUZZ ended with Pegg driving away and never coming back, as a big burn on people who naturally expect a big shoot-out and conclusion. It’s weird, though, because in a way they actually try to do the same thing — make fun of conventions for the first half, and then giddily indulge them the second half. Only, I think Kaufman doesn’t love his cliches the way Wright and Pegg do. In his hands they seem snarky and disinginuous, whereas Wright and Pegg commit to seriously having their fun.

    Mr M – 100% agreement. If VERN’S APPEALS PROCESS goes forward, I’ll second your motion for a reevaluation of this one. They make it look so easy until you start to think about just how dense and complex the plot and parodies are. When something this complex works this well without looking hard, that’s a sure sign of solid filmatism in my book.

  7. I would disagree about Adadptation’s third act. I think they stick the landing because Kaufman and Jonze treat the main characters seriously even as the story goes apeshit. Donald’s last speech at the log may be ‘cliched’ but its a beautifully written and performed scene. Same goes forSusan Orlean’s complete breakdown while holding Laroche. The last conversation between Charlie and his girl tears me up. Because they treat the characters as real and important, the post-modern cleverness never chokes the life out of the movie.

    I’d rather watch Hot Fuzz, though.

  8. Subtlety,

    “Maybe that’s part of the joke, but leaving a terrific film without an actual ending of any kind is pretty unsatisfying, even if its to make a point.”

    You nailed it. I think Kaufman is a talented writer and I’ve enjoyed some of his work, but there is this mindset in some of his scripts that turns me off. It’s like, he thinks if he points out his own film’s shortcomings then it negates them. He mocks the cliches of mainstream filmmaking in ADAPTATION, but that doesn’t change the fact that he made a film with all those cliches.

    Far more irritating for me was SYNECDOCHE, NY. It’s an over-stuffed, over-ambitious movie that tries to encapsulate the complexity of human life, destined to come up short of its goal. But, get it? That’s part of the joke, it’s ABOUT a man trying to make a play that is over-stuffed, over-ambitious and tries to encapsulate the complexity of human life, destined to come up short of its goal. So I’m supposed to forgive his movie for feeling aimless and unsatisfying because it’s about an artist making a work that is aimless and unsatisfying? It just doesn’t work for me.

  9. I also really like the ending of Adaptation, but I’ve only seen it once so I don’t know how well it holds up now that I know the gag. I do agree that it’s the skill and commitment with which the joke is executed and performed that makes it work. It’s so deadpan that a lot of people don’t even know that it was a joke. They think the movie legitimately started to suck at the end.

    During Nic Cage’s wilderness years (2002 – the day Bad Lieutenant premiered) it was thinking of his really astonishing dual performance here that made me remember that he could be a truly great actor when he wanted to be.

  10. Majestyk,

    I see what you’re saying, but I guess my point is that whether or not the ending actually sucks or is just pretending to suck, you’re still watching 20 minutes of movie that sucks.

    Plus, I’m inclined to agree with Brendan that the last act is still supposed to be engrossing and serious. For Brendan it worked and that’s great, but for me it feels like a cop out.

  11. I really think it gets to have it both ways. While what’s actually happening in the last act is just some hackneyed Hollywood bullshit, I feel that the emotional arcs of the characters are actually resolved by it. It treats that stuff seriously, even as it lets the plot go on thriller autopilot. I think maybe that’s what Kaufman begrudgingly learns from all this: These conventions are so common because they get the point across more effectively than a bunch of artsy bullshit.

  12. Preswitch: I thought Synechdoche was almost a purging of sorts for all of Kaufman’s fetishes and obsessions. With that movie he basically laid bare everything that he hates about himself and his work and eveeything he is afraid his life is. It’s one of the most naked self-portraits I’ve ever seen and it makes parts of that movie physically painful to watch.

    I think that’s something he learned from working with Jonze and Gondry. His scripts were really well written and structured and were clever and everything, but they also had a tendency to go for the big gesture and finale over emotional reality. Being John Malkovich originally ended with a puppet battle between Cusack and the Devil, Adaptation ended with fucking Bigfoot attacking everybody, and Eternal Sunshine had a major “Fuck you” of a conclusion instead of Gondry’s rorscharch plot of a final image. I think it was the directors in all those cases who found the heart and soul of the characters and made the humanity of the work shine through all the narrative contortions and trippy concepts. Without a director to sort of steer him towards that, Kaufman and the good ship Synechdoche drift towards Bug Fuck Crazy Bay, but he keeps it in control enough to deliver a movie that has more going on for it than, “Dude, it’s like, we’re all fucked and stuff.”

  13. *rorscharch BLOT

  14. ADAPTATION was supposed to end with a Bigfoot attack!? That’s ridiculous and absurd!

    Florida is skunk ape country. Unless the bigfoot attack occurred back in California. And even then, I’d only really buy Northern California.

    Seriously, though, that’s awesome. My longtime my desire to see the pie-fight ending of DR. STRANGELOVE has finally been topped.

    I know that when I first saw it, my enjoyment of the last act was hobbled by the fact that I kept waiting for the joke to be over so we could get back to the real plot. I thought maybe by going back and watching again knowing that this is all there is might allow me to invest a little more in the hollywood ending, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I feel like its impossible for me to buy into it after the rest of the movie so efficiently rips into exactly this kind of plot, and I can’t help but feel that there’s something a little disingenuous and glib about it.

    On consideration, I do think Kaufman wants us to invest in the way the plot turns out, but at the same time I don’t get the feeling he enjoys writing it very much or respects the form it takes, even if he acknowledges its necessity (Mr. M, I agree). Hence, its not really the section of the movie he invested much passion in, and it comes off as kind of superficial despite the excellent acting. is that part of the joke or not? I don’t know. I think maybe he does want to have it both ways, mocking the trite, predictable cathartic structure but still thinking we need it to finish the movie. Obviously its possible, since that’s exactly what HOT FUZZ does, but I think the lesson is that you need to love both the parody and the subject you’re parodying if its going to work. I don’t think Kaufman loves his hollywood thriller plot enough to sell it, at least if I’m buying. I’m glad it worked for some of you, though — I still love ADAPTATION to pieces, and Cage is fucking golden in it. Truly brilliant performance.

  15. Wings of Desire was also supposed to end with a pie fight. True story. Apparently the footage exists.

    All these great filmmakers getting the same idea, and only Romero had the stones to actually do it. Bravo, George.

  16. I should re-watch both of the movies in question, but I don’t know man. The thing was that ADAPTATION felt so serious that most people I know didn’t even understand the switch to Donald’s script. I like that dedication. HOT FUZZ doesn’t have that reality, it feels like what it is: some dudes who like action movies making some low budget jokes trying to imitate slick action movies that they can’t really come close to matching. Plus, a whole bunch of unrelated stuff based on THE WICKER MAN. I loved the heartfelt homages but it felt really unfocused to me. But it’s cool that the director got to meet Edward Woodward before he died.

    Anyway, I definitely prefer the purity and dedication of ADAPTATION to the scattershot approach of HOT FUZZ. But obviously they’re not going for the same thing at all so there’s room for both.

  17. Vern obviously you are entitled to your opinion, but I think you’re sort of under-estimating the Hot Fuzz screenplay.The whole movie is a masterpiece of set-up/pay-off. Everything from all the action movie movews Nick Frost sets up to the swan. A perfect example is when the Andy’s tell Angel that if he wants to be a big cop in a small town he can “Fuck off to the model village.” Which is where the finale is held and Angel is framed towering over the buildings. Or the scene where the doctor explains the shooting gallery rules and he winds up predicting the entire third act.

    The only place where I really disagree with the review is the line about how these movies are fun, but only need to be watched once. To me, these movies are absolutely perfect re-watchers, I’m still finding background stuff and lines that I hadn’t noticed.

  18. Vern, please allow me to encourage you to give HOT FUZZ another shot. The thing is, and this wouldn’t be apparent upon first viewing, is that it’s not unfocused, not at all. The reason so many nerds fawn over the Wright/Pegg movies is because SotD and HF have two of the most obsessively focused and tightly structured screenplays ever crafted for mainstream comedies. It’s like what Majestyk says above, there’s so much symmetry and the movie is planned out to an anal level of detail. Tiny moments, brief lines of dialogue and minor visual details often are mirrored later for comedic effect, or payoff in other unexpected ways… the movies gain so much from repeat viewing.

    Not all these little background jokes are winners, but even less amusing ones like the Aaron A. Aaronson callback are fun just because of the fact that they bothered weaving it into the movie at all.

  19. I rewatched ADAPTATION recently and I agree with Dan – “whether or not the ending actually sucks or is just pretending to suck, you’re still watching 20 minutes of movie that sucks.” The whole druggie thing is way too drawn out, the crocodile chase etc it’s just dull. The thing is, if Donald had actually written the third act of the movie it would have been a lot more ridiculous and fun than the drudgery that it is, waiting for the joke to be over. There would have been car crashes, explosions, chase scenes between a bad guy on a motorcycle and a cop on a horse (see: TRUE LIES) but the bad guy and the cop and the psychiatrist would all have been different personalities of the same person. And Donald would have been revealed as all three of these personalities, and he and everybody else are just multiple personalities of Charlie. I don’t think the movie should have degenerated into some SCARY / EPIC MOVIE kind of idiocy but it could have been a lot more fun, maybe more along the lines of TRUE LIES (see?). Then cut back to the last 5 minutes of the movie exactly the way it is – deadpan. Five minutes of deadpan works. Half an hour…. no, not really. Just my opinion.

    It’s too bad because the movie has some fantastic acting, some excellent ideas, a great exploration of the Writing process and the neurotic male mind, and it’s rated R already so they could have slipped in a lot of gratuitous nudity during the Donald portions. Opportunity wasted.

    I saw HOT FUZZ on TV a few weeks ago and thought it was really good. It had one of the funniest lines I’ve seen in a movie since TROPIC THUNDER… “Narp?” I laughed out loud and chuckled for a couple minutes afterwards.

  20. My recent BAD BOYS II revelation compelled me to watch HOT FUZZ for the first time in years. I remember enjoying it, probably a little more than Vern enjoyed it but not at nerdly arousal levels. The loving homage elements, the symmetrical callback-y script, and the over-the-top gunplay & disgusting head injuries are all things that push the right buttons for me.

    On the OutlawVerncipality’s main concern of action filmatism & cleanliness of editing/composition:

    The choice to cut up & montage much of the movement/investigation/discovery/armament beats

    (patented Wright style — exacting narrative efficiency via repetitively standardized ADD transitions between scenes, between locations, between emotions, between beverages & pubs)

    and the action sequences is not only due to Wright’s desire to jokingly/lovingly emulate Mike Bay
    and not only due to his lower budget’s restraints on what I assume would be preferred long shots of unbroken shootouts & [CG-assisted] fisticuffs
    (cf. THE WORLD’S END bathroom fight (still my #3 or 4 best film of 2013)),

    it’s also a visual choice that enables the hilarious [2nd or 3rd] climax to include the slaying of several senior citizens. You can’t have a 2007 non-Hollywood action movie that’s filmed like a Gareth Evans or Béla Tarr joint if 80% of the killings & mutilations are going to result in geezer victims (sorry about the ageist slur), so you have to establish that the shootouts & knife fights & descending bear trap face crunchings & mini-village spire impalements & double-pistol-brandishing-old-lady-on-a-bicycle moments are going to be presented in a consistent visual fashion, and that these moments aren’t going to require *too* much physical exertion for the older actors or obvious body doubles.

    Hence the slight choppiness of most of the action scenes. We don’t get our expectations too out of whack early with John Hyams-style action beats and then transition to sad ribbons of post-action bang-bang-cut nonsense with the final firefights. Wright & his editors walk that fine line just right, so it’s satisfying and visceral and funny and homage-y the whole way through, even if there are very few shots that hold long enough to be admired for the level of action filmatistical competence I’d usually demand.

    I really *believed* that that 63 year old lady with the high ground knew how to pop off short tactical bursts from her window perch at officer Pegg.

  21. The Tony Scott-style editing in part of the square shootout was a deliberate choice according to the commentary, as a intentionally hilarious homage. The funniest action moment is also the most visceral to me, that being the flying kick to the farmer’s mum’s face.
    If you’ve not seen THE WORLD’S END, Mouth, I recommend it. Not only is it a much more personal story in additional to being a great sci fi comedy, but the action cinematography is incredibly well done, making these chaotic brawls in bars and men’s rooms being really easy to follow and exciting.

  22. Mouth, I’ll rewatch the ending but I’m pretty sure not a single person dies during that shootout.

  23. Yeah, no one is actually killed by Angel or Danny(not even the bear trap victim), they just get wounded or . It was important to Pegg that he have that moral integrity, in part due I think to how he had to kill someone in the opening montage and didn’t like it.

  24. I like to believe that most of the arrested Sanfordizens involved in HOT FUZZ’s awesome climactic shootout died shortly after their mugshot montage session, due to trauma/swelling/infections related to their open wounds, due to the UK’s socialistic medical treatment waiting list that all my conservative Carolina political representatives here assure me is a true thing that exists because USA is the best and any change we make to USA or our health care will result in us becoming Europe and/or Canada and/or Cuba and/or California and those horrible places all represent a freedom-killing death spiral thanks a lot Obama you atheist Muslim. (Been reading a lot of Wall Street Journal lately)

    It’s also fairly ridiculous that none of the cops were killed by the arms room sea mine (in the final final final climax, which wouldn’t have happened if there were a competent front door/desk officer at the precinct hub), so maybe the entire final 20 minutes of HOT FUZZ is some other-dimensional fantasy, much like the entirety of SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE etc..
    (No notion of reality supports the notion that Michael fucking Cera can have Knives Chau & the cheerleader from DEATH PROOF fighting to score with him.)

  25. The major problem I had with SCOTT PILGRIM is that I cannot buy Jason Schwartzman as a villain at all.

  26. Finally saw THE WORLD´S END. As a character-piece it´s probably the best of the three in the Cornetto-trilogy. It has an underlying pathos to it behind all the silly shit that happens and is also (sadly) a bit relatable. Further viewings are inevitable.

  27. I agree with my Swedish friend. THE WORLD’S END is perhaps the best last act to any trilogy – ever – and a f***ing good movie!

  28. Well, one of the best last acts. It´s hard to beat THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY ,though. As a sci-fi movie,THE WORLD´S END has better aliens than in that final STAR FORCE-MOVIE: EMPIRE OF THE JEDIS, Those wookies sure were annoying!

  29. I don’t really see TGTBATU as a part of a trilogy, but sure…

  30. “and is also (sadly) a bit relatable. ”
    I remember Pegg and Wright in an interview saying that most people know a Gary King in their lives, and if you don’t, then you probably ARE a Gary King, and that within their circle, Wright is Gary King.

  31. But if you know that you are your circle’s Gary King, are you really Gary King then?

  32. That´s deep.

  33. The Original... Paul

    April 2nd, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I find it fascinating that so many people here appreciate the greatness of “The World’s End”, but for entirely different reasons to me. I went into it, not as a fan of Pegg and Wright (Pegg’s had a hit and a miss for me – the hit being “Hot Fuzz”, the miss being “Shaun of the Dead” – and Wright has added a further hit in “Scott Pilgrim”) but as a fan of bodyshock horror. I see Pegg’s character as very much a natural successor of Donald Sutherland’s character in the 1976 version of “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers”. (And maybe his character in “The Puppet-Masters” as well – he was a very human figure who isn’t much liked in both films.)

    Honestly the bodysnatchers movies seem like a more “natural” comparison to “The World’s End” than the previous two movies that Pegg and Wright did together. What the Wright movies all have in common, apart from the obvious casting and setting choices (so many British pubs!) is characters who dream of an idealised version of their own lives, dreams that are initially ridiculed but then actually manifest in a darkly ironic and perverse way: Frost’s desire in “Shaun of the Dead” to spend the rest of his life in the pub, Pegg’s desire in “Hot Fuzz” to make a difference and Frost’s to see some action, and (most of all really) Pegg’s character’s nostalgic desire to go back to the “way things were” in “The World’s End”. That last one in particular: I absolutely love that despite the fact that everybody (including the audience) sees Gary’s nostalgia as pathetic, it turns out that the modern world is actually the fantasy one. As wrong-headed as Pegg’s desire to live in the past is, he’s still proven grotesquely right.

    But despite these similarities, I see a lot more that “The World’s End” has in comon with the bodysnatchers films: the way that the alien society becomes a parody of our own, the way that humanity is portrayed as ultimately flawed and the central character as the most flawed of them all, the use of an “authority figure” who goes unquestioned for much of the movie despite the fact that he’s basically a spokesperson for the alien way of life, and various other things.

    Although I still appreciate that Nick Frost gets to knock the heads off of replicants with bar-stools. This didn’t happen in previous bodysnatchers movies (unless that party that Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig went to in “The Invasion” was much, much wilder than I remember) but I can’t hold this little break from tradition against Wright. What can I say? I’m a forgiving kinda guy.

  34. I don’t see Gary King’s nostalgia as neither wrong or pathetic. Having grown up with pretty much the same attitude, music (a little more punk rock for me) and wardrobe (I’m still wearing my black clothes, by the way) I don’t even see it as nostalgia. You pick a moment in time when everything were just right; music, fashion, politics etc. And you just don’t want things to change – much. There’s nothing wrong with listening to The Pogues and drinking 12 pints on a Saturday, even if you’re “grown up”. It’s the other guys, those who think you have to change your Whole personality to be a “grown up”, whose the pathetic ones.

  35. I don´t think it´s the genre roots that constitutes the works of Pegg/Wright as great. It is the simple fact that you actually give a shit about the characters in their films and that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is the best double act working in cinema today.

  36. pegsman – spot on.

  37. And in THE WORLD’S END they’re the closest thing to Terence Hill and Bud Spencer that we will ever come, without actually watching a Terence Hill and Bud Spencer movie.

  38. The Original... Paul

    April 3rd, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Pegsman – I don’t think I’d necessarily agree with you about Gary there, at least as far as his early portrayal goes. Gary’s portrayed from the start as a character whose nostalgia annoys the people around him. They’re willing to humour him but they don’t agree with him. He’s not just a guy who has a specific taste in clothes, he’s a guy who clings to the past like an anchor. He’s also very selfish in many ways – ways that his friends have “grown out of” but that he plainly hasn’t. He outright lies to his friends to get them to try the pub crawl in the beginning, and sees nothing wrong with it. Finally, we see him explicitly re-write the past to make himself look like less of an asshole than he actually was back then – in particular his treatment of Frost and Pike’s characters.

    This is what I mean by “perverse and ironic”. Yes, it turns out that modern life was the real pipe-dream, but that doesn’t mean that Gary had any idea of why this was. It wasn’t a “Gary was right all along!”-type twist. Yes, the world ends up going “back to the past”, but that doesn’t justify any of the nastier things that he did (and there are a fair few of them).

  39. The Original... Paul

    April 3rd, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    And Shoot – I think it’s a combination of both, really. In “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End”, I got the feeling that Pegg and Wright genuinely found a lot to enjoy in the types of movies that they were sending up. And as much as I was underwhelmed by “Shaun of the Dead”, I will give it this – it has an obvious reverence for Romero’s zombie movies.

  40. Paul, Wright and Pegg have given the Gary King in the movie some psychological problems that helps the story. He’s a functioning sociopath, to use Sherlock’s words. I was talking about the real Gary Kings out there. I know some of these guys. In some peoples eyes I probably am a Gary King myself. And like his friends in the movie, and Wright and Pegg really, a lot of people who think suits, station wagons and compilation CDs with Adele are nescessary to feel like grown ups, point a the guys in the band t-shirts and black jeans and say that they cling to the past. We’re not clinging to the past, we’re just rejecting the idea that you have to buy all that shit to have fun whilst waiting for death. And in that respect there is a sort of Gary was right all along!-type twist at the end, when Gary speaks for man kind and get backed up by his friends;

    “The Network: Just what is it that you want to do?

    Gary King: We want to be free!

    Steven Prince: Yeah.

    Gary King: We want to be free to do want we want to do!

    Steven Prince: Yeah.

    Gary King: And we want to get loaded!

    Andrew Knightley: Yeah!

    Gary King: And we want to have a good time and that’s what we are gonna do!

    The Network: It’s pointless arguing with you. You will be left to your own devices.

    Gary King: Really?

    The Network: Yeah. Fuck it.”

  41. The Original... Paul

    April 3rd, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Pegsman – I kind of agree with you there… but bear in mind that THIS Gary King is, as you put it, a functioning sociopath himself. I don’t think the film condones what he does so much as his right to, as he puts it, “be free”. And I can respect that.

  42. I respect that too. But because Pegg probably is more a Steven or an Andy in real life, I get the feeiling he made Gary just a tad more obnoxious than he had to, just to defend his own life decisions.

  43. The Original... Paul

    April 4th, 2014 at 12:56 am

    This might just be me, but again, I think that’s more the genre’s roots coming out. I think that it’s necessary that a protagonist in a bodyshock horror movie represent humanity at its most flawed, which again is why the Donald Sutherland version of “Invasion” is the best one for me. (The Gabrielle Anwer version’s main character is rebellious to the point of being kinda selfish throughout the first half of the movie, although there’s definitely understandable reasons about why she’d resent her new stepmother as well.) In “The World’s End” Pegg’s character, and his arc, fit perfectly into the genre in this way. Again, that might just be me being a particular fan of that genre, but I think not – it’s obvious that Wright and his crew know the genre very well indeed, and they’re built their own homage to it in a way that does more than just pay lip-service to its tropes.

    Bodyshock horror has always been about what humanity actually IS versus what it potentially COULD be – there’s always some kind of inhuman ideal that’s represented by the invaders. In the 1950s film it was communist conformity, in the 1970s it was a kind of new-age utopia of junk psychology and natural remedies, in the 1990s version it was the military “machine”, and in the most recent Nicole Kidman version… I’m honestly not sure; it kinda made the point that a world without petty emotion would also be one without wars and human-caused tragedies, but then so did most of the other films in the genre. I think this was one of the things that were lacking in the Kidman / Craig film maybe? With “The World’s End” it was all about an imagined utopian version of the past, which of course turns out to be unrealistic (it’s significant that a lot of the history Pegg’s character gives us at the beginning of the film is disputed by his friends later on).

  44. I´ve never seen Kaufmans BODY SNATCHERS, only Abel Ferraras. How does that hold up to the 70´s version?

  45. Oh, you already mentioned it.. My bad.

  46. The Original... Paul

    April 4th, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Shoot – Kaufman’s version is a masterpiece. Some of the best directing I’ve ever seen in a movie, and also some of the best scoring – not so much the individual music, rather how the entire film’s score changes as the film continues. There’s a scene near the beginning that uses a simple piano accompaniment and an alarm clock in a way that makes it one of my favorite moments in film. Donald Sutherland is perfect as an officious bureaucrat who tries to cling to the structures he’s depended on for so long, blind to the fact that they’ve clearly been co-opted; Jeff Goldblum is Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy is perfect as a junk psychologist who becomes the “spokesperson” for the aliens in the same way that Timothy Dalton does in “The World’s End”, or R Lee Emery (have I spelt that right?) does in the Ferraras version.

    It’s worth saying that Ferraras’ film is my second-favorite Bodysnatchers film, and another one of my personal favorite films. I grew up with it and saw it many times before I saw the Donald Sutherland version. It’s quite interesting watching the first three Bodysnatchers films one after the other, because there’s a clear progression there. In the 1950s film the bodysnatchers act almost imperceptibly. In the 1970s version I think they hit the balance just right – again, there’s a scene between Brooke Adams and her now-alien boyfriend that just gets me. We’ve seen them do flirtatious mockery of each other at the start of the film, yet when bodysnatcher-boyfriend does the same thing when she’s genuinely worried about her, even though it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, the context is so different that it hits her like a slap to the face. In Ferraras’ film the bodysnatchers are noticeably less human, more “alien” in their actions, and they’re also more aggressive – going out of their way to “test” people they’re not sure of by trying to get an emotional reaction from them.

  47. Slight correction; it was Pierce Brosnan who was the “spokesperson” , not Dalton.

  48. The Original... Paul

    April 4th, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Don’t want to “dis” Ferraras’ score as well by the way – that’s fantastic.

  49. I feel like I should say a nice word or two about the Hirschbiegel/McTiegue/Wachowski version INVASION.
    Believe me, it is VERY obvious that it is a bastardized version of a better movie and a “test aucience compatible” version, but while it’s (because of that) the weakes BODY SNATCHERS version so far and even fails at being a good movie, it still has many things to like and is definitely worth the time, when it’s on TV or you don’t find anything else on Netflix. (Still, I hope they will release the Hirschbiegel version one day.)

  50. Ferrara’s BODY SNATCHERS is my favourite Invasion flick, fancy-free and effectively gloomy in atmosphere. I saw the Kaufman one a long time ago, and I remember liking, not loving it. I’ll have to give it another watch.

    Paul – have you seen Jack Sholders THE HIDDEN from 1987 with Kyle McLachlan? And would you consider this in the body-SHOCK-horror genre you talked about on the EVIL DEAD ’13 thread? It definitely has the alien-invading-humans-for-their-own-alien-purposes thing going on.

    THE HIDDEN was the movie of choice for me and my mates on Friday nights back then. It had some real audacious carnage going on, like when the alien took over the fat guy who steals the sports car then tears through a park, wiping out pedestrians and a guy in a wheelchair. A little bit of Troma in a better quality film.

  51. The Original... Paul

    April 4th, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Darren – I haven’t, but I’ll give it a look. Thanks very much for the recommendation.

    CJ – I agree with you completely I think. I like it, but then I’ll like just about anything in the genre. I think it at least has some interesting ideas although the execution is patchy at best. Vern wrote a very good review of “The Invasion” that I think mostly did it justice. I think its biggest problem is that the stakes are much lower than in the other “Bodysnatchers” movies. The ending is so convenient, yet it’s quite believable because of the nature of the aliens here. I don’t want to spoil too much for people who haven’t seen the film, but you know what I’m talking about.

    Shoot – it was? D’oh!

    Just come back from seeing “The Winter Soldier”. It’s the best movie featuring Captain America yet, but it’s still not quite a “hit” for me. Now if it starred the hot Russian assassin, it might be more fun.

  52. The Original... Paul

    April 4th, 2014 at 8:52 am

    And just to stop this thread from being taken over completely, I’ll take that one to the forums.

  53. I’m kinda on Vern’s side when it comes to Edgar Wright. I liked all his stuff, but didn’t love it. Especially not as much as the rest of the internet.

    Except HOT FUZZ! That movie gets better every time I watch it. (Like just right before I wrote this.) The only thing that spoils it for me, are the completely unwatchable action scenes, but since this was done as an intentional joke, I cut Wright SOME slack. The thing is just that the last 30 minutes become annoying pretty quick because of that gimmick and if we could actually see most of the big shootout, the movie would be perfect.

    But it’s still miles ahead of SHAUN OF THE DEAD (hey, that rhymes!), which isn’t bad either, but is a huge letdown because of all its unlikeable characters and awkward tonal shifts. (Tomorrow I’m gonna re-watch SCOTT PILGRIM and THE WORLD’S END. Let’s see if I like those more than before.)

  54. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a ton of fun…until they get to The Winchester, then it runs out of steam (though the actual ending is funny).

    I guess that’s a cliched criticism of the movie, but it’s still true.

  55. Poeface a.k.a. Poeny Starks

    September 19th, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    I like how Pegg and Frost get excited over BAD BOYS 2. It may be the best validation Bay ever gets for his behemoth of an action film. (Which I am quite fond of.)

  56. I don´t think SHAUN OF THE DEAD runs out of steam. Up until Winchester we´ve been mostly hanging with them laughing, but when they are trapped it becomes NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and at times pretty intense with the previous hilarious bickering escalating into deadly confrontation or at least darkly humourous confrontations. i love the film. I think it is a film that is great from start to finish.

  57. In fairness it’s admittedly probably been close to ten years since I saw SHAUN OF THE DEAD, maybe if I saw it again I’d have a different opinion.

  58. It’s not exactly running out of steam, it’s just that it never had THAT much steam to begin with and that the tonal shifts are so clumsy and groan worthy, that the movie barely recovers from it. I still like it more than not. But I also don’t LOVE it.

  59. I did think of HOT FUZZ during the entire recent discussion of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2: “Have you ever fired two guns whilst jumping through the air?” “No.” “Have you ever fired one gun whilst jumping through the air?” “No.”

  60. CJ – how was THE WORLD’S END for you?

    I rewatched it recently and was struck by just how good Rosamund Pike is. (Words I never ever thought I’d say.) She needs to get more roles like that, especially ones with a focus on comedic timing. I think if anything I actually underrated it when I wrote it up a couple of years ago, and I thought it was really good even then.

  61. Interesting that people here seem to think Wright/Pegg/Frost’s work is generally a bit lackluster barring HOT FUZZ. For me, and it has been a while since I’ve seen it granted, HOT FUZZ is an entertaining film, but one which could do with more gags and fewer homages and pastiches, whereas SHAUN and WORLD’S END are both fairly substantive films which transcend their fanboyish groundings. WORLD’S END in particular I find genuinely quite poignant.

    Didn’t get on with SCOTT PILGRIM at all, and PAUL, while an easy watch, is real lazy stuff, so I guess these guys all bring out the best in each other (I was quite fond of SPACED too).

  62. I liked THE WORLD’S END not as much as I liked it the first time around. (Same goes for SCOTT PILGRIM.) I still sympathize with Pegg’s character to a degree. Not with his asshole qualities, but the whole “life got shittier, but everybody but me managed to adjust to it” thing, is really something that I can relate to. And the more heartfelt moments in TWE work a lot better than in SHAUN. Also I totally forgot how awesome the action scenes are. They are chaotic and crazy, but easy to follow. All those post action fuckers should really strive to be more like this movie!

    But the genre mix doesn’t feel as organic this time around. Whereas SHAUN was really a RomCom that got taken over by zombies, this one felt like we were watching two seperate stories, that had nothing to do with each other, although both happened to the same protagonists, at the same time and at the same location.

    Also this time I hated the “Our flaws are what makes us human” conclusion, especially because it was tied with heavy alcohol consume*. Or to be more specific: Frost hated Pegg for something horrible that he did once, but once everybody got drunk, they were friends again and “saved” the world, because hey, being an irresponsible asshole is apparently a positive character trait.

    Interesting enough, all of Wright’s movies are about personal growth. But he is most of the time very bad at communicating it. (Or just as cynical as Paul thinks Spielberg is.) At the end of SHAUN, it’s not Shaun who became a better person, despite all the heroic deeds and traumatic events, his girlfriend became a slacker like him. And while Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers actually learned a lot at the end, it doesn’t feel exactly earned, because the rest of the movie was about a group of arrogant assholes who constantly bark at each other: “DON’T DO THIS! DON’T DO THIS! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THIS! I WANT YOU TO DO THIS! BUT DON’T DO THIS!” And whoever Pegg played in TWE got what he wanted in the end. He just had to accidentally flush the whole world down the shitter in a drunk rage. Only in HOT FUZZ all bad guys got punished, the lazy cops became good cops and the supercop learned to losen up.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still like Wright a lot. He is talented and it’s nice to have at least ONE comedy film maker these days, who can justify a long runtime with actually trying to tell a story, instead of endless improvisations and moments, that shouldn’t be seen outside of the DVD bonus features. (Adam McKay lost that status with ANCHORMAN 2.) But I also still don’t love him. But he only made four movies so far. I can see him becoming great over the years. Or worse. Time will tell.

    *I wonder what’s up with Edgar Wright and heavy drinking anyway? Maybe because he is British? Yaay, stereotypes!

  63. SHAUN was about having your mates, and eating them too.

  64. CJ – On Spielberg… I don’t think he’s deliberately “cynical”, as I think we’ve both put it. I think he’s constantly pulling from the same bag of tricks, but his outlook has changed so much that those tricks have ceased to be helpful and are poisoning his films for me. WAR OF THE WORLDS took this to a level far beyond anything I’ve seen before though – even beyond MUNICH (and I hated MUNICH). I think you guys underestimate the restraint I showed in the WAR OF THE WORLDS thread. If I’d have tried to communicate my feelings about that film, rather than just my analysis of said feelings, I think the result would’ve been six pages of pure hateful expletives. Or possibly something like my ramblings on SUDDEN IMPACT.

    Anyway…

    A small rebuttal to one of the points you made about THE WORLD’S END. Regarding the “flaws are what make us human” thing, two things: 1) this is, I think, more tied to the history of bodyshock horror that the movie is referring to, and 2) more importantly, Gary is seen at the end ordering five waters for himself and the blanks, which at least suggests that his apology to Andy at the end is genuine. As you say, he got what he wanted (although it wasn’t what he needed) and it resulted in basically everything he’d ever known being blown to kingdom come. I think there’s a dark irony to how Gary’s situation is mirrored at the start of the film and at the end of it. In both cases he ends up getting exactly what he thinks he wants (the best night of his life at the start, the completion of the pub crawl that he’s become obsessed with at the end) and in both cases it turns out that by getting what he wants, he’s “poisoning the well”. The difference for me is that at the end he learns from it. And that, for me anyway, is a satisfying ending.

    As to the heavy drinking question, I’ve known a few people who were diagnosed as alcoholic before they were out of their teens, although they were probably clinically alcoholic much much earlier (twelve or thirteen years old seems to be the norm, or at least it was when I was a teenager). We have a dark culture of binge drinking and alcohol abuse over here. I think it (as with many of our social problems) started with the Thatcher reforms in the 80s (which put what turned out to be pretty much entire industrial towns out of work and caused all kinds of social upheval and disenfranchisement). Edgar Wright probably grew up with this just as much as I did, so it doesn’t surprise me that he draws from experience here.

  65. I don’t really think that he learned much at the end of THE WORLD’S END. He maybe doesn’t need alcohol as a crutch anymore, but while everybody else got back to their normal life (even the one without half of his head) or at least the post-apocalyptic version of it, he roams the world with the copy of his teenage friends and looks for reasons to start random bar fights. It’s like Edgar Wright (And Simon Pegg. Don’t forget that he co-wrote 3 out of his 4 movies) wanna tell us that all the people who are able to adjust, are totally lame, while Pegg is da man! I mean, when Frost tells the story, he talks about how he and his wife became farmers and he likes it, because he misses any of the old food. Which is obviously a lie, judging by how greedy he stares at the Cornetto wrapper, that flies by. What is that supposed to mean? Everybody is living a lie and only Pegg knows the real deal?!

    Again, I really don’t know what to think of that ending. Maybe it means nothing and it was just a cool and random way to end the movie. Or I’m right with my cynicism theory. (In all fairness it should be mentioned that the one time, when I actually had some more or less personal contact with him, he came across as super humble.)

  66. *he talks about how he and his wife became farmers and he likes it, because he DOESN’T MISS any of the old food

  67. CJ – my perception was that the others aren’t “lame” (certainly Stephen and Rosamund Pike’s character aren’t), just different. But it’s a very subjective point. I think that earlier on in the movie, Pegg is portrayed specifically as dysfunctional to the point of sociopathy. I feel as though the film was successful in making the case that this was the only place this character could reasonably have ended up. Killing him off would’ve felt cheap, and giving him some kind of re-entry into society would’ve felt unrealistic, unless either was done VERY well, so… where else can you go?

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

  68. I think what I liked about THE WORLD’S END (and the trilogy in general) is that Pegg and Frost have the same chemistry but never really play the same characters, and in a sense have different but equally enjoyable chemistry. If you think about comedy pairs in the past, that’s not been easy to pull off. Besides that it’s sort of perfect that this doubles as an alien abduction story because I didn’t have that experience in High School that these characters did as I was pretty much a loner and if I hung out with anyone it was usually my brother’s friends.

    What’s interesting about SPACED is that it didn’t work when they tried to adapt it for American TV, mostly because they couldn’t show the main characters taking drugs in a recreational manner. At least not without turning them into the cliches of the hippie or the junkie-types. They sort of got away with it on THAT 70’s SHOW from what I remember, keeping the characters at least relatable without crossing that line. I think now with pot becoming legalized, it’s become more normal to see characters in TV or movies toking up without wearing tye-dye or listening to Donovan.

  69. Only seen Hot Fuzz and Shaun. I’m definitely more of a horror guy than a cop film guy, and I liked Fuzz way more than Shaun. Had a great deal of fun with this. Dug the banter. Dug the horror elements. Great quirky characters I’m invested in. Timothy Dalton, crushin it. I think this one holds up very well.

  70. CJ, speaking as a guy who pretty much listen to the same music and have the same type of clothes as he did 30 odd years ago, I think the lesson is that that’s okay. If I’m lying to myself to be happy what’s it got to do with the people who choose to go down the more traditional route?

  71. That’s an explaination that I’m willing to accept. Although it also kinda proves what I said earlier, about Edgar Wright being very bad at communicating his personal growth messages.

  72. I don’t know too much about Wright’s lifestyle, but I’ve heard Pegg say in interviews that he’s quit drinking and put the lifestyle of Gary behind him. So maybe the result is some compromise between Wright and Pegg?

  73. I mean, I think the end of WORLD’S END acknowledges that’s just who Gary is… he doesn’t need to “grow up,” he’s happy living in the past, and why shouldn’t he? It’s important to say that he’s given up alcohol, because that was a crutch for his unhappiness. But now he’s wandering around, living his perpetual youth, being a badass… that was what he always wanted, and now he can do it. Is that such a bad thing?

    I actually like that end, because I’m a bit tired of these Judd Apatow movies which are all about how slackers need to grow up and change themselves and buy a condo in order to be good people. Gary’s a force of nature… he doesn’t want or need to move out to the suburbs and get married. Andy wanted to, he did, and he’s happy about it (even if he is a little wistful about his badass past, as all of us are on some level) — so good for him. But Gary really was never going to be happy doing that, so its kind of miraculous that through this bizarre series of events, he’s found a different kind of fulfillment.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>