"Blimey, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost sure are a couple of funny chaps."
Much of the appeal to the movies that actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright have written together is that they have a genuine affection for the subjects they parody. “Shaun of the Dead” probably wouldn’t have been nearly as funny if Pegg and Wright didn’t adore the horror movies they grew up with. “Hot Fuzz” pokes fun at buddy cop movie clichés, but Wright also delivers action scenes worthy of the films he’s satirizing.In a role that’s a complete 180 from his turn as a passive electronics salesman in “Shaun of the Dead,” Pegg plays Sgt. Nicholas Angel, a London cop who’s kept the city safe and alienated his peers in the process. He not only collars more crooks than they do, but his martinet attitude convinces his superiors to send him to Sandford in the countryside.
Sgt. Angel’s by-the-book approach to law enforcement initially gets him into even more trouble in his new post. The sleepy village tolerates underage drinking as a rite of passage, and his first collar winds up being Danny (Nick Frost, “Shaun of the Dead”), his new partner and the son of the town’s genial inspector (Jim Broadbent).
The arrangement would be a complete disaster if Danny weren’t enamored with Sgt. Angel’s achievements and skills. Danny’s earnestness and his desire to emulate his favorite American cop films almost atones for his frequent blunders.
The duo’s sense of obligation gradually becomes oddly appropriate when a few of the town’s residents begin to die in a series of violent mishaps. The rest of the town assumes the freak incidents are merely accidents, but Sgt. Angel and Danny discover that the town’s complacency may be unwarranted as a real crime wave emerges.
If there was a movie that was ever ill-served by its trailer, “Hot Fuzz” certainly qualifies. The affectionate tone that Wright takes toward his characters and the setting are completely missing in the advertisements. If Wright and Pegg didn’t love their protagonists, the film would be mired in smugness, and it would be hard to care if Sgt. Angel ever adapts to his new low stimulation surroundings.
This affection is clearly shared by the cast. None of these would be as much fun if Pegg and Frost didn’t have such an appealing chemistry. Oscar-winner Broadbent has a ball playing impossibly laid back inspector, and former James Bond Timothy Dalton is delightfully sleazy as a potential murder suspect.
Even the minor roles are a scream. Edward Woodward from the original “The Wicker Man” has some choice moments as a hyper-vigilant neighborhood watch leader. Equally watchful viewers may catch Cate Blanchett and moonlighting director Peter Jackson in some hysterically funny cameos.
Wright imitates the over-the-top visual styles of directors like Michael Bay (“Bad Boys 2”). But unlike Bay, Wright doesn’t let the rapid fire cutting and explosions get in the way of the storytelling. His action scenes offer just as much adrenaline as the films that inspired him.
Wright retains the fondness for gore that he demonstrated in “Shaun of the Dead.” Squeamish viewers might have a tough time with some of the murder sequences, and the blood seems a little out of place with the tone that runs throughout the rest of the film.Nonetheless, considering how smugness has flattened the humor in such recent satirical disasters as “Epic Movie,” I’ll take a decapitation over a failed attempt at fecal humor any day.