‘Hot Fuzz’ burns up the screen

By Gus Bode

Hot Fuzz

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Timothy Dalton, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Edward Woodward

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Run time: 115 min.

Rating: R

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 Gus Heads

The only thing that could make director Edgar Wright’s sophomore release, the action-cop shoot-’em-up comedy “Hot Fuzz,” a more satisfying movie would be the film’s appearance at theaters in the greater Carbondale area.

Such glaring absence not withstanding, Wright and star/co-writer Simon Pegg have crafted one of the best cinematic send-ups since the Zucker brothers decided disaster flicks could benefit from a combination of vicious roasting and loving homage. With “Hot Fuzz,” however, the team behind “Shaun of the Dead” takes the parody format and crafts a quick, clever film built on outlandish plot twists, hilarious characters and an endless string of astute film references.

By-the-book London cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is so dedicated, so efficient and so effective at fighting crime that his superiors (the Holy Trinity of character actors in Steve Coogan, Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy) promote this super cop and send him to the sleepy, bucolic town or Sandford. On his first night on the job, Angel busts a horde of underage drinkers and inadvertently collars fellow cop and future partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost).

Angel’s new precinct is filled with a token clumsy inspector (Jim Broadbent), a pair of overzealous detectives named Andy (Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall) and a host of other action cop clich�s. While Sandford appears to be an idyllic town completely devoid of crime, accidents begin popping up as buddy cop conventions between Angel and the cinema-obsessed Danny Butterman briskly turn into a murder mystery.

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Part of the genius of “Hot Fuzz” is Wright and Pegg’s ability to devise plot, characters and structure that serve both purpose and parody. Unlike the “Scary Movie” and “Naked Gun” franchises, both of which were little more than meager setups for bad jokes without concern for actual storytelling or moviemaking, “Hot Fuzz” works as an homage and on its own merits.

Despite being billed as an action comedy, “Hot Fuzz” actually shifts genre parodies with each of its acts.

In its first act, the film focuses primarily on the “buddy cop” oeuvre of the “Lethal Weapon” and “Bad Boys” films while the second act is part murder mystery and part slasher film. It is the third act, however, where Wright and Pegg beautifully distill material from the likes of Joel Silver, Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay, Tony Scott and a host of other overblown directors into a full-on action film. It would be easy for the pair to simply jump from style to style, but “Hot Fuzz” remains focused on laughs and plot while adopting the editing, scoring and cinematography styles to that of each genre being lampooned.

Pegg, Frost and a host of character actors all play their parts to goofy but straight-faced perfection while both the comedy and the action hit all the right notes. The film runs a tad long and the ending is a bit sketchy, but these Brits perfectly skewer the unintentional homoeroticism of the “buddy cop” genre, the who-done-it gore of old school mystery/horror and the bloated, implausible action typically found only in America.

The film references fly furiously throughout “Hot Fuzz” and this only adds to the hilarious, Trivial Pursuit-ready setting. Action fans unfamiliar with the tenets of the genres being parodied may find some allusions curious, but “Hot Fuzz” is intentionally funny in all the ways cheesy films never purposefully intend to be.

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