Hot Fuzz (2007), written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, is one of the UK’s most celebrated action movies of the 21st century. How’s the screenplay? Let’s analyze it.
- Draft Read: Unknown
- Type: Spec
- Page Count: 148
- Reading Speed: Fast
- Setting(s): Sandford, Gloucestershire, England
- Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning multiple weeks
- Genre(s): Comedy, Action, Detective
- Theme(s): Murder, Friendship, Loyalty to ones profession, Buddy cop
- Protagonist Change: Significant
Hot Fuzz is a relatively formulaic light-hearted comedic whodunit. Where it excels is witty and funny dialogue combined with short action lines; thereby making it a fast, entertaining read. And fast is generally good in comedy, because a slow-moving (in every way) script like The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) would be an absolute slog to get through.
I share some jokes in the dialogue section below, but the writing is superb. For example, On Page 90 Danny, the younger police officer, carries Angel’s, the police sergeant’s, stuffed monkey he won at the fair around. Another police officer, Wainwright, chastises Angel:
This isn’t the city, Mister Angel. Not everyone’s a murdering psychopath. High time you realized that. You and your monkey.
The Andes walk off into the night. DANNY holds up the CUDDLY MONKEY.
Did he mean me or the monkey?
If I recall correctly, that’s the second monkey joke (they squeezed a lot of laughs out of a stuffed monkey toy), and it’s textbook comedy (I believe an example of double entendre or a pun, but I don’t know my terms and don’t wish to learn them now).
Does Hot Fuzz have a genre problem? Maybe. It’s got a little bit of detective, whodunit, action, and straight comedy going on at the same time. And of course, there is the use of farce and irony (and it truly has both; I’m not being lazy and not Googling the definition of the two terms… again). And there are pop culture references throughout. There are references to various action movies, and even Judge Judy (Page 125).
The story takes a long time to get going. I marked Page 53 (36% of the way through the script) as a point where I still had no idea where the plot would go. In fact, (I believe) the first scene that doesn’t involve Angel, when the first murder takes place, is on Page 58. That’s 39% of the way through the script!
The plot is rather nonsensical. A police sergeant is transferred to a small town and uncovers a string of murders, which he thinks are connected. Yet instead of immediately calling in the cavalry, the sergeant returns and attempts to take out the bad guys one by one. The plot becomes a whodunit for a good portion of Act 2, and the reveal, that multiple people were working together on the murders (hat tip to Murder on the Orient Express), came out of the blue. Then again, the story isn’t supposed to be realistic, more so a fun ride.
Great characters all around. Nicholas is the uptight new police sergeant. Danny is the quieter guy. While the characters, like the plot, do feel somewhat formulaic, perhaps stereotypical is the better word, they fit together quite well. Why? One reason may be that the characters are put in situations that expose their weaknesses, thereby forcing them to rely on others for support.
Dialogue & Pacing
Some jokes hit and others don’t. But most of them are clever and witty. It’s clear that the writing team is experienced. Some of the long-running gags, such as the stuffed monkey won at the fair (see Script Strengths above) and the swan, are hilarious. How about this little back-and-forth with some condensed lines (Page 69-70):
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a police officer, apart from the summer of 1979 when I wanted to be Kermit the Frog… It all started with my Uncle Derek… Gave me a police pedal car when was five…
Sounds like a good bloke
Actually, he was jailed for selling drugs to students.
What a cunt.
I think you would’ve made a great muppet.
Notice how there are two separate jokes, the uncle and the muppet, rolling at the same time.
This isn’t a script that’s going to have a strong emotional impact. With that said, some valuable lessons are shared. For example, Nicholas learns to ease up on work and respect and trust his friends. And Danny gains the confidence to stand up to his father. Are these life lessons expressed in deep ways? No. But they are there, which makes the script deeper than other straight comedies like Friday (1995).
Best Part of The Script
The back-and-forth between Angel and Danny as they try to connect the mysterious deaths on Pages 94-97 is hilarious. Here’s a little snippet:
Fancied himself as a property developer.
Had big plans for Sandford.
Pissed on the floor in the Crown
But more importantly, was a good friend and client of…
Notice how Angel’s last line leads us into the next back-and-forth for the following character.