Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Jim Broadbent. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, April 20, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas and the Cinemark Tinseltown
Chuck out your self-help books, red wine, lavender bath salts, St. Johnswort, massage oil, and relaxation tapes. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have invented the cure for the blues. I defy you to watch the newest Brits-gone-barmy movie by the dynamic duo behind Shaun of the Dead with a heavy heart and full bladder and remain morosely in a dry seat for the duration. Hot Fuzz is a fresh upper, handily topping Wright and Pegg's 2004 cult zombie flick in pure manic energy alone.
Pegg plays newly minted sergeant Nicholas Angel, an ace cop reassigned from London, England, because his arrest record—400 percent higher than his jealous fellow officers'—makes them look ineffective.
In tiny Sandford, a dozy town of church fetes, runaway swans, Neighbourhood Watch pedantry, and other small-town monstrosities, the type-A Angel is paired with eager Const. Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the bovine, mouth-breathing son of the local police chief (Jim Broadbent). His childlike enthusiasm for action flicks translates into a romanticization of law enforcement and a growing hero worship of the no-nonsense Angel. Best buds off-screen, Pegg and Frost generate a genuine, easy comic chemistry. When Angel suspects nefarious goings-on in the village, despite the townspeople's protestations, Butterman can be relied upon to swiftly produce copies of Keanu Reeves's Point Break for research purposes. Much of the fun here comes from recognizing Hot Fuzz's numerous references to flicks like Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys II.
Whether audiences view Angel's switched-on keener as an insufferable know-it-all or an exemplary law enforcer, our bobby-out-of-water is immediately likable. Pegg plays it damn straight, his expressive, unblinking eyes zeroing in on underage ale quaffers and skull-splitting murderers with equal zeal.
As the film moves from an idyllic, Miss Marple–like murder mystery to its chaotic blood-spattered, Hollywood-style action climax, director Wright's wild editing jerks the audience at hyperspeed. Cameras relish 360-degree turns around the actors. One-liners spray like bullets over the proceedings. Hot Fuzz refuses to take a bow or wait for the audience to catch the joke. It knows where it's going. Helping it clip along is a master class of capable British actors. Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Stuart Wilson, Billie Whitelaw, Edward Woodward, and David Threlfall delight in hammy performances. As a reptilian supermarket owner, Timothy Dalton should have villain spray-painted on his brow from the moment he leers from under a twirly moustache. Oh, and did I mention the gargantuan, ticking underwater mine? You'll have to see Hot Fuzz yourself to believe it. Pee first.