10 Things That Make Hot Fuzz One of the Funniest Cop Movies Ever Made
In honor of its tenth anniversary, a look at what makes Edgar Wright's action-packed comedy so special.
When Hot Fuzz opened on April 20 in the U.S. ten years ago, it hit audiences with full magnum force. Fans of the team's first hit Shaun of the Dead were excited to see creators Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost turn their comedic genius from a zombie film to an action movie. And no one was disappointed. Time magazine’s Richard Corliss exclaimed that it was “the best, surely the smartest, English-language movie of the year to date.”
Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a hardened top cop transferred from London who partners with a wide-eyed, gung-ho rookie, Danny Butterman (Frost), to uncover the hornet’s nest of evil at the center of a sleepy English village. Faithful to his action auteur heroes, Wright directed the film in a style that would have done any blockbuster proud.
1) Screenwriters Wright and Pegg interviewed scores of real police professionals to get their parody pitch perfect.
From the interviews they conducted with real police officers, the filmmakers heard repeatedly that one thing was missing from cop films. “Every single one of them said the paperwork is fifty percent of the job,” Wright tells Collider. Wright and Pegg flipped this when writing the screenplay by making the paperwork "the most exciting bit in the film to really amp it up.”
2. Shaun of the Dead’s cricket bat makes an appearance.
For fans of the trio’s earlier zombie film, Shaun’s handy cricket bat appears in the backdrop of one scene and DVD copies of the film show up in the bargain bin with the Spanish title Zombies Party.
3) Jumping fences becomes running gag.
In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun’s taunt, “Never taken a shortcut before?” lands him flat on his face when a garden wall collapses beneath him. In Hot Fuzz, Nick and Danny encounter the same type of garden fence, and Pegg delivers the same “shortcut” line. However, Frost rather than Pegg stumbles this time.
4) Several fellow directors are cast in slightly deranged roles.
Wright cast The Lord of the Rings’ helmer Peter Jackson as a crazed Santa Claus and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Garth Jennings as a crack addict.
5) Even their moms get in the action.
Both Wright’s and Pegg’s mothers appear as judges for the “Village of the Year” contest.
6) The film is shot in Wright’s hometown.
For the rustic village of Sandford, Wright turned to his own hometown of Wells, a Somerset metropolis that titles itself the “smallest city in England.” Wright, however, had to digitally remove one of city’s most famous landmarks, the city’s 500-year-old medieval cathedral.
7) Nick Frost got to name his own character.
Nick Frost’s appearance in the film was a foregone conclusion. But in later interviews, he claims that his one demand in order to appear in the film was that he be allowed to name his character–Danny Butterman.
8) That runaway swan really happened.
The lead actors and director got firsthand knowledge of procedure by hanging out with actual police forces. “The stories they told us were stranger than anything we could have written,” Pegg told IndieLondon. “The escaped swan is a true story that we were told in Wells,” Wright told the Guardian.
9) The film has over 5,500 edits.
In obvious and unexpected ways the film showcases its deep love for the genre it parodies. The film's editor Chris Dickens recounts that there are over 5,500 edits to create “a fast-paced style to mimic action films.” To film the courtyard shoot up, Wright used a hand-cranked camera to get irregular timing, similar to Tony Scott’s high-octane shooting style.
10) Pegg doesn’t smile for the first 45 minutes of the film.
To capture Angel’s passion for policing, Pegg doesn’t crack a smile until the film is nearly half over. “He’s like the perfect policeman,” Pegg explains. “He just doesn’t know how to switch it off, that’s all.”