As crack London cop Nick Angel in the goofball comedy with the awful title Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg keeps a straight, stoic face through some of the silliest scenarios this side of Monty Python. How he keeps it (Krazy Glue on his lips? Squeezing a fistful of tacks?) is anybody's guess. But it's impressive.
Exiled to a postcard-perfect English village because his arrest rate was putting the rest of London's bobbies to shame, Nick Angel goes from chasing down robbers and thugs to searching for a lost swan and warning the tweedy oldsters about crossing against traffic.
But sleepy Sandford, it turns out, isn't so sleepy after all.
Shortly after his arrival, a series of "accidents" start to occur. Longtime residents are dying in bizarre and grisly ways. Sgt. Angel's sleuthing instincts kick in, and, as Sherlock Holmes would say, the game is afoot.
A broad spoof of Jerry Bruckheimer buddy-cop pics, of cozy English mysteries, of the macabre and cultish (The Wicker Man) with the antic irreverence of The Naked Guns added to the mix, Hot Fuzz comes from the team responsible for the British zombie parody Shaun of the Dead. Pegg co-wrote that one with director Edgar Wright, and the duo perform the same function here, aided on-screen by the portly and perpetually winded Shaun veteran Nick Frost. Frost plays Danny Butterman, a village constable with an encyclopedic knowledge of Hollywood action pics and a hankering to learn what a real big-city cop is all about.
And now he can learn firsthand, from the real big-city cop who has become his reluctant partner.
Although Hot Fuzz is a good 30 minutes too long (the ending - or endings - are endless), it is also good for long stretches of laughs. Teaming the all-business/all-the-time Angel and the let's-have-an-ice-cream Butterman is like throwing Laurel and Hardy into Lethal Weapon. And the supporting cast is a Who's Who of British thespianism, out for a lark: Jim Broadbent as the village's chief inspector; Paddy Considine as one of Sandford's idiot detectives; Timothy Dalton as the local supermarket magnate; Billie Whitelaw as the busybody innkeeper; Bill Nighy as Angel's London boss; and Edward Woodward as the head of the village's Town Watch.
With pages, not to mention exploding fireballs, taken from such seminal shoot-'em-up classics as Bad Boys, Die Hard and Point Break, Hot Fuzz turns the quaint, cobblestone streets of staid Olde England into a madcap mess of mayhem and murder.
It's bloody carnage - or it's ketchup, or bolognese sauce, at the very least.
Directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, photography by Jess Hall, distributed by Rogue Pictures.
Running time: 2 hours, 1 min.
Nicholas Angel............... Simon Pegg
Danny Butterman. . . Nick Frost
Frank Butterman. . . Jim Broadbent
Joyce Cooper.............. Billie Whitelaw
Simon Skinner. . . Timothy Dalton
Parent's guide: R (violence, profanity, carnage, gore)
Playing at: area theaters