2007, R, 121 min. Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Timothy Dalton, Billie Whitelaw, Rafe Spall, Edward Woodward, Paul Freeman.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 20, 2007
Simultaneously smart and silly, Hot Fuzz demonstrates that it's not necessary to be a buffoon in order to lampoon. This send-up of buddy-cop movies is a thoroughly entertaining blend of wry British humor and climactic, over-the-top action-film heroics. It is a film that truly deserves the description "action comedy," a true hybrid that gives equal measure to both labels rather than merely using one form to prop up the other. Hot Fuzz comes from the same team behind 2004's hilarious spoof of zombie movies, Shaun of the Dead: director and co-writer Wright, star and co-writer Pegg, and funnyman Frost. Pegg plays Sgt. Nicholas Angel, a London police officer who is banished by his superiors to the hinterlands because he is so good that he makes the rest of the department look bad. (His arrest record is 400% higher than any other officer's.) On his first night in the tiny village of Sandford, he arrests most of the local pub's clientele for being underage. Among them is Danny Butterman (Frost), son of the town's top cop (Broadbent), who winds up being partnered with Angel instead of going to the pokey. Danny, who is a devotee of buddy-cop movies (his two favorites being Point Break and Bad Boys II), is thrilled to be paired with Nick – his ideal of a perfect cop. Most of their duties involve tasks such as chasing lost swans and the like, but eventually a real plot involving a crooked store manager (former James Bond Dalton) starts to emerge, at which point the movie goes into action overdrive. Mimicking and tweaking moments from films by the likes of Tony Scott, Michael Bay, and Jerry Bruckheimer, Hot Fuzz shows a great love and knowledge of everything it satirizes. Actors such as Bill Nighy and Steve Coogan show up for delightful cameo turns, while Pegg and Frost give the impression of having bounced off each other all their lives. At two hours, Hot Fuzz drags a bit in its midsection but is nevertheless the most originally funny movie to hit U.S. screens in a while. (See p.55 of this week's Screens section for an interview with Wright, Pegg, and Frost.)