You liked Shaun of the Dead? Then Hot Fuzz will bust a cap in your arse.

Arresting Development 

You liked Shaun of the Dead? Then Hot Fuzz will bust a cap in your arse.

For all the praise deservedly heaped upon 2004's Shaun of the Dead, the zombie-flick spoof was little more than an extended sketch. But the movie, created by director Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg, provided such a bloody good time that its admirers — those weaned on George Romero gorefests and the Pegg- and Wright-penned slacker Britcom Spaced, chiefly — didn't mind that it dragged its undead feet a little too long. On DVD, Dead's many worthy deleted sequences and outtakes prove that the movie was too long but not long enough.

The same can be said of Hot Fuzz, wherein Wright and Pegg refashion the American buddy-cop genre in their own deadpan image. At more than two hours, it's a bit lengthy. And yet, to see it once is to fall in love and want to pay up immediately for another screening, so abundant are the poker-faced gags that race through the quaint village of Sandford in which the wannabe Bruckheimerian blockbuster is set.

Wright and Pegg have built their film on the foundations of others, from The Wicker Man (the low-key original, not its garish redo) to the oeuvre of Chuck Norris to Wright fave Freebie and the Bean to, finally, Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys II and Point Break, the trinity that inspires Fuzz's overwrought gunplay and homophobic homoeroticism. The tributes extend even to the casting of Hot Fuzz, in which Edward Woodward (of both The Wicker Man and The Equalizer) stars as the surly head of the Sandford Neighborhood Watch Association, former James Bond Timothy Dalton appears as a slick supermarket manager, and Paul Freeman (The Long Good Friday, Raiders of the Lost Ark) shows up as a minister with ungodly secrets hidden beneath his frock. There is even a Moulin Rouge dig, shortly after Jim Broadbent turns up as the kindly police chief who knows plenty about Sandford's skeletons.

Pegg, looking years older than 37, plays Nicholas Angel, who, we are told during a rapid-fire intro narrated by Martin Freeman, is the best cop on the London police force. He's so good, in fact, that his supervisors — played, in bit roles, by Freeman, Bill Nighy and Steve Coogan — transfer him to the idyllic Sandford (Wright's actual hometown of Wells), lest Nicholas keep shaming his inept colleagues. His new partner is Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the town drunk.

Ultimately, Hot Fuzz is a kind of love story between these two guys. But Hot Fuzz, like Oasis on its first two brilliant albums, transcends its influences to create something bigger. This brilliant laugh riot isn't tethered to its roots or constrained by its tributes to lesser things. (That was always the problem with Airplane!, which doesn't hold up as well as you think it does.) It thrives as its own entity, a British variation on Hollywood nonsense. As such it's a little gloomier, a little coarser and a lot more cerebral — oh, and funnier than all the Reno 911! boxed sets combined.

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