Alphabetical Movie – Hot Fuzz
What is the difference between movies like Hot Fuzz and Young Frankenstein and the Scary Movie franchise? Aside from the fact that ten years from now, those two films will still be funny and the Scary Movie films still won’t?
I mean, the Scary Movie films come from what I would consider to be a great pedigree of screwball comedies like Airplane, Hot Shots and Top Secret. Yet they are – and I’m sorry if you like those movies – absolutely horrible. They fail at satire, they fail at comedy, they fail at titilation. Their only success is that they can be made so cheaply that they make money in spite of themselves.
Here’s the thing, Hot Fuzz is targeted satire. They are not making fun of every police movie ever made. They are making fun of the idea of police movies. The clices are identified and then parodied in a way that never winks at the audience. If you walked in on the middle of the film, you might think you are watching a bad buddy cop film instead of a really good parody of one.
All of the films in the Scary Movie franchise are taking a shotgun approach to parody. They satirize every single film in a particular genre by figuring out what jokes fanboys like me are writing on the internet and then figuring out how to make a lame joke even lamer. Throw in a couple of topless women and BAM! You can probably get enough horny 18-35 year old guys with no sense of humor to go to your movie.
Bad comedy is so easy, it is depressing. Good comedy is so hard, most people don’t recognize it. Young Frankenstein is filled with so much subtle comedy directed at the Universal Horror films and if you don’t know those films, you’d never know it was there. Yet, the film is richer because of those touches – even to people who don’t recognize why they are there.
Satire is so difficult to get right, I wish more people would notice when it happens.
Problem being – good satire is just barely distinguishable from the real thing. Know why so many people take onion articles seriously? Because there isn’t a rim shot at the end of the column.
Heck, I was fooled by a satirical article about Rick Santorum. It makes me wonder how many people went to Hot Fuzz and complained that the movie was full of clices. Probably the same number of people who say the same thing about “Hamlet.”
Hot Fuzz, Tropic Thunder and other films in the same vein don’t provide the audience with a rim shot so you know where to laugh. Instead, they respect your intelligence and hope you’ll figure it out for yourself. For a film like Scary Movie to respect your intelligence, it would need to have some intelligence of it’s own.