June 9, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 48°F


Bloody and funny, film parodies big budget action

Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are learned disciples of the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez school of filmmaking. Their two feature films, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” are as much parodies as they are loving tributes to the zombie and cop genres, respectively.

The latter of the two films earned Wright the street cred to guest-direct one of the hilarious fake trailers in “Grindhouse.” But now Wright and Pegg have combed through their own exhaustive DVD collections to create “Hot Fuzz,” a trigger-happy, gun-toting romp — a heartwarming buddy comedy with a taste for blood. In other words, it’s like “Grindhouse” but with a plot.

Wright has clearly studied “Bad Boys II” and “Point Break” as closely as Tarantino studied old kung fu and blaxploitation films. “Hot Fuzz” is as much a great comedy as it is an indulgence of Wright’s inner Michael Bay. Wright and Pegg’s enthusiasm throughout the film is almost childlike. When the guns come out for the big finale, the two comedic filmmakers genuinely seem to be having the time of their lives. It’s like they finally got the chance to play the Patrick Swayze– and Bruce Willis–types they always fashioned themselves after anyway.

“Hot Fuzz” kicks things off on the mean streets of London, where the audience is introduced to Sergeant Nicholas Angel, supercop. First in his class at the academy, making big cases on the big beat, Angel is London’s finest. In fact, he’s too good, so much so that he makes the rest of the force look bad, so he’s off to Sanford, the safest town in England. Angel rolls into town at night, and though there’s nothing even close to a real crime being committed, he can’t help but arrest everyone in sight. But after hauling in a few too many underage drinkers and some loiterers, his new superiors tell him to relax.

Angel tries his best to live the leisure life, patrolling the small town with his new partner, portly action-movie buff Danny Butterman. Things go smoothly until a grisly series of accidents (or are they murders?) rocks the small town. What’s worse is that the kindly old folks at the NWA might be behind the whole thing. That’s the Neighborhood Watch Alliance by the way, not some old West Coast gangsta rap crew.

The NWA is Wright’s warped take on classic action villains of yore. The sleepy town council is lined with some of the finest British actors working today, including Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy, who is unrecognizable to most without his trademark tentacle moustache from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Former “James Bond” Timothy Dalton steals plenty of scenes as well. As sinister shopkeeper Simon Skinner, Dalton expertly channels a bit of Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, the dastardly villain from the original “Die Hard.”

Of course, “Hot Fuzz” isn’t the first film to parody big budget action movies, and it surely won’t be the last. But what “Hot Fuzz” nails perfectly that the “Naked Gun” and “Scary Movie” franchises don’t seem to grasp is true love for the genre. Leslie Nielson has his moments, but he doesn’t actually want to be a Keanu Reeves or a Jean Claude Van Damme. Wright and Pegg do. And now they can sit back and relax, knowing they’re not just funnier than Van Damme — they also make better action movies than he does.

“Hot Fuzz” was written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright and directed by Wright.

“Hot Fuzz” received 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.