'Hot Fuzz' hits the target

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2007 - 10:16 AM

An affectionate satire of buddy-cop action movies comes from the team that brought you "Shaun of the Dead."

"Hot Fuzz" is blazingly funny. The team that mocked the clichés and conventions of zombie movies in "Shaun of the Dead" now sets its sights on American renegade cop movies and blows the genre to car-smashing, bazooka-blasting smithereens. Co-creators Simon Pegg (the writer/star), Edgar Wright (writer/director) and Nick Frost (co-star/occasional writer) have produced an exuberant, ultraviolent and uproarious satire.

Constable Nick Angel (Pegg) is the antithesis of the friendly London bobby. A rigid, cool-as-ice supercop, he's such an overachiever that his superiors transfer him to the countryside because he makes the other officers look bad. His new beat is the cozy village of Sandford, with the lowest rate of violent crime in Great Britain. The local police are bumbling slackers, unimpressed with their hard-charging colleague, and the townspeople call on the uptight Angel only to track runaway swans.

But oafish constable Danny Butterman (Frost) warms to Angel, thinking him the epitome of the action-movie cops he idolizes. "Have you ever fired two guns whilst jumping through the air?" Butterman asks in the throes of a raging man-crush. The film's rather sweet subtext is about Angel, the growling lone wolf, lightening up enough to establish a friendship with his lummox sidekick. In true "Lethal Weapon" fashion, this odd couple uncover a serial murder plot and explode into an orgy of gunplay and brawling. Imagine an Agatha Christie murder mystery directed by Tony Scott. Rarely have little old ladies been karate-kicked in the face with such gusto.

The film adds a small but perfectly formed cast of characters and allows the culture-clash comedy to escalate into pure insanity. The ensemble is so overstocked with talent, including Jim Broadbent as the village's chief constable and former James Bond Timothy Dalton as a shady supermarket owner, that brilliant cameos by Cate Blanchett, Steve Coogan and A Very Famous Film Director go unbilled. (See if you recognize who's masquerading as Santa Claus.)

"Hot Fuzz" stands above smirky run-of-the-mill parodies because of the obvious affection the filmmakers have for the movies that inspired it. The script is chockablock with nods to "Bad Boys II,"Point Break" and dozens of other classics. And the film honors its English comedy roots with beautifully finessed verbal humor: One murder victim is a kitchen appliance millionaire known as "the refrigerator magnate." If you can't decide between seeing a bang-up action movie or a fast-paced comedy this weekend, "Hot Fuzz" does both.


    3½ out of 4 stars

    The setup: An English murder mystery presented with an American action sensibility -- and laughs. London's two-fisted top cop (Simon Pegg) is assigned to a sleepy village, where he suspects foul play is behind several very bloody "accidental" deaths.

    What works: A solid script and a gallery of wonderful comic performances.

    What doesn't: The story's a bit slow at the outset.

    Great scene: An achingly awful amateur production of "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet."

    Where: Lagoon.

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