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Friday, April 20, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Funny cop spoof "Hot Fuzz" has a blast with law and disorder

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"Hot Fuzz," with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Timothy Dalton, Martin Freeman, Paul Freeman, Bill Nighy, Lucy Punch, Anne Reid. Directed by Edgar Wright, from a screenplay by Wright and Pegg.

121 minutes. Rated R for some violent content including some graphic images and language.

Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), a solemn-faced blond fellow who looks like Daniel Craig might if his DNA had taken just a bit of a wrong turn, is a good cop. Too good, it turns out: His arrest record, at his London precinct, is 400 percent higher than everybody else's. He's a humorless law-and-order man, and his superiors devise a plan to get rid of him so he can stop making the rest of them look bad.

And so, at the start of Edgar Wright's funny cop spoof "Hot Fuzz," Angel is quickly dispatched somewhere out-of-the-way: Sandford, a picturesque English village where emergency calls tend to involve an escaped swan and where the biggest town blight is a living statue. As Angel's first act in his new home, he clears out the local pub of underaged drinkers — leaving it, alas, utterly empty. But soon, a series of horrific deaths leaves him wondering: Is Sandford plagued by a serial killer, or just excessively accident-prone?

Wright last teamed with Pegg (Wright directs, both co-write) for 2004's "Shaun of the Dead," a hilarious spoof on zombie movies complete with Pegg as a nebbishy Londoner so tuned out from his life that he doesn't even notice the walking dead in his nearby convenience store. Now, the two have turned their sights to cop movies, and "Hot Fuzz" cheerfully sends up the genre — with blazing guns, ominous music and the odd impalement or two. (The gore from "Shaun of the Dead" slips in here, in the form of severed heads and shlockily violent deaths.)

Pegg, who can do a marvelous deadpan (you sense that this man's desk could explode, and he'd still get his paperwork done), is the focused center around which the giddiness of "Hot Fuzz" revolves. A host of fine actors make up the supporting cast, all having a blast: Nick Frost (Pegg's laid-back roommate in "Shaun") as Angel's dimwitted but eager sidekick Danny Butterman; Jim Broadbent as the town's glad-handing chief of police (who just happens to Danny's father); a gleefully hammy Timothy Dalton as the scary Mr. Skinner, who runs the local supermarket and appears up to no good; Bill Nighy as Angel's disapproving London boss.

"Hot Fuzz" runs rather longer than it should (at least 20 minutes could easily have been snipped from the final third), but the filmmakers seem reluctant to end things while everyone's having such a good time, and you can't blame them. "Hot Fuzz" lopes along easily, with its flashing quick-cut editing and tight close-ups and snappy door-slamming, paying happy homage to all those awful cop movies that run together in our minds. (Some not-awful ones get sent up, too, such as a certain Roman Polanski classic. "Forget it, Nick," intones Danny near the end, "It's Sandford.") Even the swan-on-the-lam seems in on the fun.

What will Wright and Pegg set their targets for next? I don't know, but I'll be watching.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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