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Face-Off: Shaun of the Dead vs. Hot Fuzz

I see you're back for more, indulgers of the obscene. I can only imagine so, as last week was a much more easily won victory by THE MUMMY over it's inferior little brother, THE MUMMY RETURNS than many believed. But this week we have a more contentious battle on our hands. Oh yes...the kind of battle where big words must be used. This time around you will have to hold back your gasps as much as you will your laughs, as this competition pits two of the most beloved comedies of the modern era against each other: SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ.

The contest comes in celebration of director Edgar Wright's new movie, BABY DRIVER, as both movies were directed by the man and star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Each are beloved satires, one spoofing the zombie genre and the other the over-the-top action flick. Both movies do so – as the Brits say – brilliantly, and it's hard for many to favor one over the other. But here there can only be one (unless there's a tie!!!), so it's best to pick your sides now. If the bloodbath doesn't cause your death from shock, you will at least be put in stitches! Get it...because of the whole "laughing till you're in stitches" bit...

BEGIN!

THE ENSEMBLE
Simon Pegg as Shaun
Nick Frost as Ed
Kate Ashfield as Liz
Lucy Davis as Dianne
Dylan Moran as David
Peter Serafinowicz as Pete
Penelope Wilton as Barbara
Rafe Spall as Noel
Simon Pegg as Nicholas Angel
Nick Frost as Danny Butterman
Jim Broadbent as Frank Butterman
Rafe Spall as Andy Cartwright
Paddy Considine as Andy Wainwright
Timothy Dalton as Simon Skinner
Olivia Colman as Doris Thatcher
Numerous cameos including:Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Cate Blanchett, Joe Cornish, and Peter Jackson.
THE WRIGHT TOUCH
When Edgar Wright made SHAUN he had to use what little was available to him, which was basically a minimal budget, his wit and his pals. Using so little Wright wrings as much as he can from each scene, letting the hilarious script and great work from Pegg and Frost do most of the heavy lifting. Even though this is his first film his penchant for quick and stylish editing becomes evident early on, and many other stylistic choices the director utilizes to this day can be seen here. SHAUN is a tremendous first effort from a director, bursting with personality and originality, hinting at great things to come...
Like HOT FUZZ! The director received double the money to make the film, and the result is double the scope, cast and insanity. With FUZZ he showed an apt skill at creating action sequences and working with a larger cast, while at the same time never losing sight of what made his first movie function so well: focus on the main characters. This has been something he's brought with him to future films, like SCOTT PILGRIM, THE WORLD'S END and, no doubt, BABY DRIVER. He's a director who continues to improve on himself with every film, and HOT FUZZ is a prime example.
NOTABLE BITS & LINES

Meet Shaun and the gang


"Shaun, Hoglumps!

"Can I get...any of you cunts...a drink?"

Intro feat. zombie-like humans.

"I'm sorry, Shaun." que fart.

"You've got red on you."

Drunken zombie karaoke.

"Cornetto."

Something seems...off.

"There's a girl in the garden."

Ed snaps a quick pic.

Bloody Mary

Home Invader

"[email protected] the man!"

Aim for the Head

Armed and Dangerous

Shaun: "Because I love her!"
Ed: "Alright...gay."

The Plan

"We're coming to get you, Barbara!"

"How's that for a slice of fried gold?"

The Jag

"Saving" Liz.

Phillip turns.

The Alt. Team, featuring Martin Freeman.

The First Fence

Walk Like a Zombie.

Ed: "It might be a bit warm, the cooler's off."
Shaun: "Thanks, babe."

Killing to Queen.

"Okay. But dogs can look up."

Goodbye, Mum.

Winchester Overrrun.

Goodbye, Ed

Remembering Z-Day

BFFs

Meet Nicholas Angel - Supercop


Freeman, Coogan, Nighy

Meet Drunk Danny

Rounding up the Whole Village

Meet Police Officer Danny

The Andies

Shaun: "You have a moustache."
Andy: "I know."

Danny: "What was it like being stabbed?"
Nick: "It was the single most painful experience of my life."
Danny: "What was the second most painful?"

"Have you ever fired two guns whilst jumping through the air?"

"You ain't seen BAD BOYS 2?!"

"Is it true there is a place in a man's head that if you shoot it it will blow up?

The Swan's Escaped

"Yarp."

In Pursuit

The Second Fence

"Have you ever fired your gun up in the air and gone 'Ahh'?"

Fire Up the Roof

The Mudering of Bill Shakespeare.

The Farm-ory

The Ketchup Trick

Danny and Nick bond.

The Collection

Boom Goes the House

Tim Messenger gets Splattered

"Did he mean me or that?"

Tripped on Her Own Shears/Race Through the Plant Shop

Putting the Pieces Together.

"Jog on!"

"Cornetto."

Angel v. Lurch.

"Playtime's over."

A Much Less Complex Explanation.

"Forget it, Nicholas; it's Sandford."

Boot the Farmer's Mum

Battle of Sandford.

"Jesus Christ!"

Nick: "You're a doctor, deal with it."
Danny: "Yeah, [email protected]"

"Here comes the fuzz."

Big Trouble in Little Sandford

Skinner impaled through the mouth.

"This really, really hurts!"

One final explosion

Nick and Danny - Supercops.
BROMANCE
One of the key themes of every movie in Wright's Cornetto Trilogy is friendship, mostly demonstrated with Pegg and Frost's characters, and never is that bond so endearing and sweet than in SHAUN. Shaun and Ed are the ultimate BFFs, sticking together through the zombie apocalypse without hesitation. Pegg and Frost work so beautifully together, and though the movie does consider itself a romantic comedy (with zombies), the friendship between Shaun and Ed is by far the film's more touching angle. Shaun's own mother turns into a zombie in this film, but if any tears are shed it's for when Shaun bids his bitten friend a fond farewell. But there's a happy ending to it all, and seeing Shaun play video games with Zombie Ed is a special kind of happy ending.
The friendship between Nick and Danny is much different from Shaun and Ed, clearly because in FUZZ said friendship must be developed. Nick is hesitant to form a bond with Danny, as the latter seems to thing being a policeman (officer) is all about gun fights and "cookin' fools." But the two make an unlikely duo, as Nick teaches Danny how to be a proper police officer, and Danny teaches Nick how to fire his gun up in the air and go "Ahhh!"
SPOOF SAVVY
SHAUN is an ode to the zombie movies of ol', particularly the work of George A. Romero. Like great satire it spoofs genre tropes instead of copying them down beat for beat and then telling a fart joke. How Shaun, a good-natured but oblivious person, approaches the zombie apocalypse is what makes it hilarious, starting with being completely unaware to signs around him the morning of Z-Day. There's also the hapless approach to killing the zombies, and the notion that to sneak by them all you have to do is behave just like they do (because how can they tell the difference?). These survival scenarios are all beats normal zombie movies cover with a more chaotic and creepy style, but SHAUN acknowledges the same beats while creating something entirely its own through the conduit of its leading character who just wants to get his girlfriend back...and it's all uproarious.
HOT FUZZ plays up the cheesey, over-the-top, hyper-stylish antics of typical cop flicks with such vigor and hilarity that it functions on two levels as both as a blazing satire of those movies and a ridiculous action movie itself. You've got the super serious leading hero, a mismatched partner, a seedy public figure up to no good, and a ludicrous plot of murder and mystery. Not to mention, there are loads of little details being played with, like gravelly voices, over-abundance of weapons, etc. Nothing goes untouched! Throughout the course of the film it pokes fun at the fact real police work is nothing like the real thing, with the dime being turned when the devious plot is revealed to be much more simple than we thought. The movie then embraces its roots, with gleeful carnage ensuing and managing to be hysterical the whole way.
MUSICAL MASTERY
You could say a scene in SHAUN was a prelude for Wright's future work on BABY, in which Shaun, Liz and Ed beat the Winchester owner with pool cues to the song "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen. The perfectly-synced beating was a perfectly quirky touch to add to the zombie fest, and stands as one of the movies most adored moments. Aaaaah...but anyone can capitalize on pop hits. How's the original score for the film? On that note SHAUN has a surprisingly rich score from Daniel Mudford and Pete Woodhead, who took inspiration from the music of Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD. The high-pitched, stretched-out tones are mixed with techno vibes (or is it electro?), and the the music permeates through the film even when there's no zombies around, creating a suitably eerie atmosphere.
Like SHAUN, FUZZ uses some classic British pop hits to emphasize scenes in his action flick. Likewise the score from David Arnold has an appropriately action heavy, badass sound to it. However, action scores have a tendency to all sound similar to one another, and most of the time Arnold's does the same. Not to say it's a bad music in anyway. Far from it. It's just that when compared to SHAUN it doesn't create the same feeling or have as unique a vibe. But not having as much action and noise in the background is a benefit to horror movies, allowing their scores to shine through. It's a hard battle, FUZZ. Don't beat yourself up over it.
AWARDS, PRAISE & MONEY
BAFTA:
    Best British Film (Nom)
Golden Schmoes:
    Best Comedy of the Year (Win)
    Biggest Surprise of the Year (Win)
    Best Horror Movie of the Year (2nd Place)
    Breakthrough Performance of the Year: Simon Pegg (2nd Place)
    Best Line of the Year: "Can I get...any of you cunts...a drink?" (Nom.)
Praise Money:
    $13 million ($30 million global)
Golden Schmoes:
    Best Comedy of the Year (2nd Place)
    Best DVD/Blu-ray of the year (Nom)
    Best Action Sequence of the Year: "Final shoot-out" (Nom.)
Praise Money:
    $23 million ($80 million global)
Hot Fuzz

SHAUN OF THE DEAD introduced the mainstream to the trio of Wright, Pegg and Frost, and the world has never really been the same. Their perfect, gut-busting execution of their zombie satire put them on the map in a big way, which lead them to FUZZ. Here, they all took what they learned on the first movie and improved on it in virtually every way, or at the very least kept on-par with SHAUN. Pegg and Frost grew as actors in the years between the two, and Wright certainly did as a director. Bigger, bolder, livelier, featuring a more diverse cast to play with and, if I may say (this is my column, so I can), funnier. SHAUN is a sweeter film, but FUZZ embraces all of the aspects that made their first movie great, and does so with so much more confidence and gusto. The result is the greatest showcase of the trio's work, not just in the Cornetto Trilogy, but in each of their individual filmographies. Oh yeah, I said it. If you don't like then...*insert fart noise*...jog on!

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