Review: 'Hot Fuzz' is a good laugh 

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, the writing team responsible for the endlessly inventive, sharp-witted satire "Shaun of the Dead," turn their attention to a certain kind of Hollywood blockbuster in "Hot Fuzz," a dark comedy that doubles as tribute and parody. While "Shaun" paid bloody homage to the zombie genre practically invented by director George Romero, "Fuzz" has in its crosshairs disposable exercises like "Tango & Cash" and "Bad Boys II," in which loud-mouthed, maverick cops wage war on civility, common sense and each other.

Here, Pegg and frequent co-star Nick Frost put a distinctly British spin on the formula. As super-cop Nicholas Angel, Pegg is neither fast-talking con artist (like, say, Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop") nor suicidal loose cannon (Mel Gibson in "Lethal Weapon.") He is thoughtful, soft-spoken and clever, and when he’s not trying to impose the letter of the law on every facet of his mostly mundane existence — even rounding up underage drinkers at the local pub on his downtime — he is decidedly ordinary. He reads. He sleeps. And he does all things quietly.

When his London superiors relocate him to rustic Sandford, he tries to retrain his new colleagues in actual police work. Soon, however, he finds himself slipping into an unlikely friendship with Danny (Frost), an overgrown child whose concept of law enforcement seems to have been molded by the Joel Silvers and Jerry Bruckheimers of the world.

Nicholas can’t tell Danny what he really wants to know — how it feels to leap through the air firing two automatic handguns at the same time. But before long they stumble on a series of grisly deaths that may be the handiwork of a supermarket owner (Timothy Dalton, the onetime James Bond). Reticent police chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), who happens to be Danny’s father, encourages them to let the case slide, and his motives for doing so come to light in a frenzied finale that embraces all the wretched excesses of the American popcorn film while making obvious their inherent silliness.

"Hot Fuzz" is more pointedly satirical than "Shaun of the Dead," which used Romero’s films as a springboard into a nutty universe inhabited by some genuinely likable characters. And though Pegg and Wright’s approach is marginally less effective here, their humor has lost none of its edge. "Hot Fuzz" takes its time building toward a manic climax that is more consistently funny than any other single passage in the film, but it boasts a wealth of subtly ironic riffs and the considerable charms of Pegg and Frost.

Together, they take the gun-toting urban cowboy, a classic American icon, and set him down in an incongruously tranquil English village. It’s a juxtaposition that works, as both a good-natured skewering and an appreciation by two obvious fans.

Hot Fuzz ***

Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Bill Nighy, Edward Woodward

Written by Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

Directed by Edgar Wright

Rated R

Running time: 2 hours, 1 minute

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