This week - Simon Pegg polices the country town of Sandford (Hot Fuzz) and Jennifer Love Hewitt lives in Bristol (The Truth About Love).
First, we must say sorry for the lack of Saturday Cinema Summary last week. We were saving London from certain destruction. All very top secret - CIA, Interpol, Power Rangers, the cast of Spooks, all that sort of thing. We toyed with trying to tell you that no films had come out last week but someone told us that you tend to read other media publications as well as our own. (Is this true?) We would have been rumbled. It is on bended knee that we apologize. Anyway, let's crack on with this week.
Bradshaw gives Hot Fuzz 4/5,
There's such euphoria surrounding our film industry right now that I'd be tempted to compare it with the heady days of Britpop, were it not for the chill of imminent catastrophe and shame that this word conjures up. At the London Critics' awards last week, I made an earnest speech about this success and for a heady few seconds bodysurfed on a wave of feelgood whooping from the audience, before I ruined it all with a spectacularly misjudged witticism about Dirty Sanchez: The Movie not winning anything - a joke received in the same kind of sudden, clock-ticking quiet that parties of grand ladies and gentlemen in 1901 must have greeted the announcement of Queen Victoria's death.
I'm sure it wasn't that bad Bradders. The movie provides "big, regular laughs" and describing the main characters played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, he writes,
as their friendship deepens, share a woman-free relationship that is tragically homoerotic in the tradition of movies that Danny loves, such as Point Break and Bad Boys II.
Man we love Point Break. Bradshaw is writing well this week so we'll just quote a full concluding paragraph from the big man,
There are funny moments all the way through, particularly among the abysmal Sandford coppers, such as Bill Bailey's morose custody sergeant who does nothing but read Iain Banks novels. Hot Fuzz is overlong and ends about three times (a reference to Return of the King?), and despite the film-buffery it owes a lot to Brit TV shows ranging from The Vicar of Dibley to Life on Mars. There were, moreover, moments when I suspected Pegg and Frost were fancying themselves as action stars for real. But the gags keep coming and the pair really do have a great comedy double act: Pegg's face is intensely, frantically, pre-emptively aware of the embarrassments and ironies of every situation. Frost is naively placid, genial and open, prone to self-humiliation every time he opens his mouth. Together, they snap the cuffs on another success.
Textbook stuff Bradshaw. Hats off.
Wendy Ide (on her snazzy new Times website) also gives it 4/5.
The cast is "impressive",
British comedy stalwarts such as Jim Broadbent, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy are joined by the likes of Anne Reid, Edward Woodward and Billie Whitelaw. Timothy Dalton brings a lupine sneer to the role of a supermarket manager, keen fun-runner and all-round cad, Simon Skinner. Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall make a gleefully petty double act as the village CID.
and there is praise for the writing too,
It’s not until the second hour of the film that Wright unleashes the big guns, both in terms of the laughs and the firearms. He’s confident enough in his own skills and in his audience’s patience to set up jokes and then leave them hanging, finally providing a punch line in the last few minutes of the movie. And Wright is obviously having tremendous fun aping the adrenalised mayhem of the Hollywood cop movie — the editing unleashes a manic assault of images; the soundtrack a hilariously over-the-top clash of bone-shattering cracks and bangs. Even the paperwork is edited to the sound of pistol shots and thrash metal.
Quinn at the Independent (now the last broadsheet without a decent website) gives it a mere 2/5,
Imagine, if you will, The Wicker Man and High Plains Drifter forming a loose alliance with The League of Gentlemen, Midsomer Murders and Heartbeat; then stir in a whole bunch of action movies featuring maverick cops or feds.
Referring to all star cast, Quinn writes,
Sandford, where Angel [the main character] has been posted, is described as "the safest village in the country" and is also, by the look of it, the village most heavily populated with British character actors and comedians.
It is true that, "only here will you see a gunfight played out amid the aisles and meat counters of a Somerfield supermarket" but Quinn questions "whether it hits the spot as comedy".
Quinn also finds problems with the end of the film,
The film, unable to decide on a finale, merely bolts one ending on to another, and the running time creeps up to the two-hour mark. By this point the fizz has gone out of this Fuzz.
We've actually seen the film ourselves and think that Quinn's review is much closer to the mark with 2/5 than the 4/5 reviews. It may seem trivial but the 'TV comedy talent all stars' cast seemed so superflous and annoying. Rather than laughing at lines we spent most of the film prodding the person next to us and asking "What was he in? Was he in Harry Potter? Is that the Dad from Shameless?"
The film's ending is a rambling mess and the jokes that are so 'cleverly' set up early on in the film only to come to fruition at the end can be seen from a mile off, if not two. Jokes are sparse and although fighting the elderly (Pegg's new subsitute for zombies) is funny for a while (it cannot be denied that a particularly well timed flying kick to a gun wielding granny is the highpoint of the film) this section seems to last forever. Are Pegg and Wright pastiching the American action movie with their too-long action scenes or have they fallen into the same trap as the very film makers they hope to satirise? It isn't clear. We'd give it two Swiss Re Towers out of five.
Watch the trailer here.
Next up, The Truth About Love
Bradshaw gives it 1/5.
The Worst Film of 2007 awards race has now been called off. It has been rendered redundant by this wooden and deathly romcom that was made three years ago, and is now being dragged out of the freezer, like a pack of Bernard Matthews Turkey Twizzlers.
...Probably better than eating fresh Bernard Matthews stock.
Jennifer Love Hewitt ... has the kind of English accent a Hollywood actress gets if she injects a gallon of Botox into both upper and lower lips and tries to do an impression of Radio 4 announcer Charlotte Green.
Quinn at the Independent gives it 2/5,
Imagine Jade Goody trying to write a Richard Curtis comedy, and you're roughly in the area of this film's pitiful ineptitude. not so Jimi Mistry who, as the love rat of the story, gives a performance so leadenly awful you'd like to look away, but can't. John Hay's film has been on the shelf since 2004, and whoever decided to take it from there has some explaining to do.
We're struggling to imagine Jade Goody write, let alone anything else.
Wendy Ide at the Times gives it a wholly damning 0/5.
Oh dear. Evidence that St Valentine sold his soul to Satan some time in 2004 comes in The Truth About Love, a Bristol-based rom-com of such unmitigated awfulness that it had the audience groaning and rocking like Guantanamo inmates.
If you can bare it, watch the trailer here.
Other films out this week - Because I Said So (An overbearing mother tries to organise her daughter's romantic life.), Eklavya (Contemporary unrest threatens an elderly retainer's dedication to protecting the long-deposed Rajasthan royal family's secrets.), Los Olvidados (A group of destitute children from the slums of Mexico City are driven to shocking violence.), The 9th Company (9-ya rota) (Young Soviet army recruits are sent to war in Afghanistan in the late 1980s where they are ordered into a futile battle with little training.), The Bridge (Documentary looking at the grim appeal of San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge to the suicidal.) and The Science Of Sleep (A shy young Mexican with an alarmingly vivid imagination moves to Paris to be close to his mother, where he falls for his charming neighbour.)