Sunday, July 29, 2007

Movie Review: "Hot Fuzz"


Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Edward Woodward, Timothy Dalton
Directed by Edgar Wright

Official Web site

Having built up a healthy-sized cult following with the success of “Shaun of the Dead,” a send-up and homage to zombie movies popularized by George Romero, among others, actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright have teamed up again to even greater results with “Hot Fuzz.” Skewering any number of American action movies, including “Bad Boys II” and “Point Break,” the film generates plenty of laughs while delivering a fair amount of bang for the buck. It’s a movie that works equally well in the comedy and action departments.

Pegg and Wright collaborated on the script that brings a standout London cop to a sleepy, tiny town of Sandford, where the police department actually responds to calls involving an escaped goose. Nicholas Angel (Pegg in a winning performance) is transferred to Sandford by his superiors simply because he’s too good at his job. His arrest rate is so high, it’s making the rest of the department look bad by comparison.

Predictably, Angel isn’t an ideal fit for Sandford, where crime seems to be nonexistent and the local police department seems overly complacent. Teamed up with Danny (Nick Frost, another “Shaun of the Dead” alumnus), the son of police Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), Angel quickly becomes bored and frustrated by the lack of activity. He also seems a bit hesitant at what to make of the seemingly odd behavior of some of the townspeople, including Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward), the head of a neighborhood watch group and the former James Bond himself, Timothy Dalton, playing an egotistical grocery store owner.

However, things don’t stay quiet for long, as some of the townspeople start dying off, in what at the least could be described as some very coincidental “accidents.” But through the work of Angel and the action movie-obsessed Danny, the pieces of a more sinister plot that connects the deaths together begins to form.

While the laughs come at the viewer pretty consistently throughout the first two-thirds of the picture, it’s in the film’s last act that the movie really cranks up the action. At that point, it makes fun of and accurately becomes a high-octane action movie, complete with endless supplies of bullets blazing out of guns, where seemingly everybody is a threat, including a shotgun-toting grandma.

The primary reason that “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead” work is because Pegg and Wright both obviously have a passion and love for the very movies at which they are poking fun. They know the landscape on which they’re walking very well, thus giving them confidence at having some good-natured ribbing at the genre’s expense. The audience becomes the beneficiary of the fun, as anyone who has ever seen an action movie will instantly recognize some of the clich├ęs being rolled out. The movie does probably go on a bit longer than necessary and the violence quotient is definitely intensified in the last half hour or so. Then again, by that point, you might be too busy laughing to notice or care.

Grade: A-
(Rated R for violent content including some graphic images, and language.)

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