As a follow-up to the popular comic zombie film Shaun Of The Dead, writing team Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright came up with another spoof, Hot Fuzz.
The film was submitted for classification and released in 2007. The examiners viewing the film noted the main issues as :
- several uses of strong language
- two uses of very strong language
- violence / horror
The repeated use of strong language immediately leads to a 15 classification. There are some 15 uses of variants of ‘f**k'. More unusual at 15 are two uses of very strong language, ‘c**t’, which normally indicates an 18 rated film. The BBFC accepts that this word can be highly offensive to members of the public, so careful consideration was given to the context in which this language appeared. Where the word is used aggressively and repeatedly in dialogue, an 18 will always result. In this film, the first use occurs in a scene at the police station where we see a swear box, accompanied by a list of all the swear words that warrant a fine to be placed in the box. The word is seen briefly as part of this list. Given that the word is not actually spoken at this point, and that the context makes it clear that the word is offensive, examiners felt that the 15 would suffice. The second use occurs where police officer Nick listens to his sergeant describing a man's selling drugs to students. Nick's response of, ‘What a c**t!’ is an expression of his disapproval of trading in drugs, rather than aggressive swearing directed straight at the offending drug dealer. Because of the context, and the fact that the film is comic throughout, examiners felt that there was no need to raise the classification to 18 on account of the language.
The film exploits the presentation of bad language in one scene, where hero cop Nick Angel snarls, ‘You mothers...!’ at a group of (literal) mums who come down the lane with their children, making a joke about a familiar swear word, without using the word itself. Nick uses this swear word as the doctor is shot in the foot, much as action heroes are accustomed to do in the films which Hot Fuzz sends up - again, the context is comic.
The fact that the film is a spoof of various familiar genre films - the cop movie, the action movie, the horror movie, the mystery thriller - means that the violence and horror merited a different treatment from violence and horror occurring as part of a serious film. Comedy will usually, but not always, lessen the impact of bloody violence in film. Examiners felt that this was the case in Hot Fuzz. The most striking example in the film occurs as reporter Tim waits beneath the church tower, and the murderous axe-man above dislodges the spire, which falls, demolishes Tim's head and lodges itself neatly in Tim's neck cavity, with very bloody effect. While BBFC Guidelines for violence at 15 state that 'Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain and injury', and the horror Guidelines state that 'the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable', the image of Tim with the spire where his head should be is so exaggerated and absurd that examiners could not treat it in the same fashion as violence / horror images from, for instance, Hostel, rated 18.
Further exaggerated violence and horror feature in the finale where the bad guy Skinner is thrown onto the spire of a model church - the tip of the spire pierces his chin and emerges through his mouth. He seems little inconvenienced by this problem, though, and continues to talk amiably. It is this element of the absurd that keeps this bloody and graphic image at 15.
Other classification issues include sex references such as "he fingered her up the duck pond" and "there's nothing like a bit of girl-on–girl". These are moderate in tone and do not present a problem at 15.
Hot Fuzz was also passed at 15 on DVD and was chosen for National Schools Film Week 2007.