Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety could only have come from a hardcore cinephile who'd logged time obsessing over Universal horror movies and Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, frame by frame. But recent catchall spoofs like Epic Movie barely seem familiar with the pop-culture flotsam they're glibly spoofing. Writer-director Edgar Wright and writer-star Simon Pegg, the team behind the cult-classic zombie romp Shaun Of The Dead, understand what Mel Brooks knew intuitively, but many of his successors don't seem to understand: The best point of attack is from a state of profound love and understanding. Hot Fuzz, Wright and Pegg's loving send-up of action comedies, suggests that its makers got more out of Bad Boys II and Point Break—two of its tongue-in-cheek touchstones—than most filmmakers get out of Citizen Kane and The Grand Illusion.
Pegg here trades in his bong for a badge as an overachieving London bobby whose crime-fighting heroics make his peers seem lazy by comparison. As punishment, he's unceremoniously shipped off to a seemingly tranquil, boring small town and partnered with loveable slob Nick Frost, a fleshy-faced hedonist who looks like a giant drunken toddler. But Pegg discovers his new beat is nowhere near as sleepy as it first appears, as bodies start piling up and no one seems particularly interested in looking for answers.
Once Frost starts talking about all the cool shit people traditionally do in action movies, it's inevitable that everything he's gushing about will pop up in the film's climax, but there's enormous fun in seeing how Pegg and the boys get there. Like Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz is characterized by an all-too-rare sense of childlike joy in the possibilities of filmmaking, collaboration, and a night out at the movies. They've only appeared in two film vehicles together, but it doesn't seem too early to herald Pegg and Frost as one of cinema's great duos. Pegg makes a surprisingly smooth transition from hapless slacker to comically efficient super-cop while cementing his status a great straight man. Though it lags a bit in its second hour, Hot Fuzz is everything an action-comedy should be. It achieves through parody what most films in the genre can't accomplish straight.