I just watched Hot Fuzz again last night in a theatre for the second time in a week. What a great movie on so many different levels.
Halfway through the movie the first time, I suddenly dawned on me the similarities between this movie and Adaptation, another film I’m very much in love with.
Both films play with romanticism (not just with love, but with things that are awesome) and its relation to reality. Both of them are extremely post-modern, although in different ways. The thing that Really Got It For Me in Hot Fuzz was when Nicholas Angel (the main character and conservative supercop) returned back to the village of Sandford after being exiled and supposedly murdered by Danny, his partner. This strikes exactly the same to me as the “hollywood ending” that appears and becomes the ending of Adaptation, provided by Donald Kaufman, the fictional/real screenwriter brother of Charlie Kaufman, who actually exists. The exact moment of the changeover appears to be when Nicholas Angel stops in a coffee shop on his way back to London, and see Keanu Reeve’s face on the cover of Point Break staring back at him.
This “split” or changeover makes a few changes in both movies: from plausible to non-plausible, from unromantic to romantic, from tension to release of tension; essentially from regular to awesome. The split appears not just in the actual plot of the movie, but throughout other elements as well. In Adaptation, there is a split personality of Charlie/Donald Kaufman. This is manifested differently in Hot Fuzz – Nicholas Angel is extremely serious, having a lot of experience in the London police force. Also, he only drinks cranberry juice. Danny, however, believes him to be some kind of superhero, asking him, for example, what the best place is in a man’s head to shoot if you want it to blow up. Danny believes him to be a very different person from who actually he is, although he becomes that person at the end of the movie. Finally, both films deal with a split between surface reality and actual reality, namely, conspiracies. Conspiracies are convenient plot devices, generally, because they allow a writer to makes sudden changes to a world we, as an audience, had thought that we had already understood the rules for. Anyway, the conspiracy in Adaptation was that the Ghost Orchid was some sort of drug that the indians were teaching Susan Orlean and John LaRoche to extract. Meanwhile, the conspiracy in Hot Fuzz was that the members of the NWA were killing off people in “accidents” whenever they risked Sanford’s reputation as a prize-winning quaint small town.
I have to secretly wonder whether Hot Fuzz’s writers and lead actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost ever watched Adaptation, and felt the split between reality and fantasy the same way I did. Having just watched their television show Spaced, which is abundant with “fantasy” experiences, I see its a big part of what they do. I’m happy that these two films acknowledge reality one an equal level as they acknowledge fantasy, which plays a huge part in our daily lives.