Monday, January 12, 2009

Shakespearean Affinities: Hot Fuzz and Last Action Hero

Hot Fuzz. Dir. Edgar Wright. Perf. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. 2007. DVD. Universal Studios, 2007.
Last Action Hero. Dir. John McTiernan. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, and Austin O'Brien. 1993. DVD. Sony, 2007.

While scanning through Last Action Hero to see if I should make it required or optional viewing for my Shakespeare and Film class, I noticed a number of affinities between it and Hot Fuzz. They both have scenes that refer directly to Shakespeare, for example.

Here's Hot Fuzz's version of Romeo and Juliet:


Here's Last Action Hero's Hamlet trailer:


They're also both mystery films that mock the conventions of their respective genres (American Action Film and British County Mystery) by employing every cliché of those genres. And they both have extreme, over-the-top violence.

One thing that the American film has that the British film seems to lack is intense, over-the-top product placement! Observe these images from the big car chase that opens the movie-within-the-movie (itself another nod to Hamlet):

Baskin-Robbins—Just the treat for after a car chase!

What goes up must come down—but nothing goes down as smoothly as a nice, fresh Coca-Cola!

These moments remind the audience that we're in the middle of a conventional film—particularly when most of the other product placements refer to the ACME Company of Wile E. Coyote fame (cf. the ice cream truck into which one of the villains is thrown)!

Links: Hot Fuzz at IMDB. Last Action Hero at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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