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Hot Fuzz

In the film Hot Fuzz , Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a Supercop, a Lethal Weapon of unimpeachable rectitude, who can brilliantly out-guess the criminal mind. He has arrested 400% more bad guys than anyone else on the London Police force. But, as such, he’s making everyone else look bad. The Chief Inspector (Bill Nighy, making the most of a brief scene) says, "You’re exceptional. And we simply can’t have that."

So Sergeant Angel is banished to Sandford, a sleepy village in the English countryside that regularly wins "Village of the Year" awards. As he travels, time is compressed in a montage so rapid-fire, it might be an insight into Angel’s hyperactive mind. There are any number of these crazy sequences in Hot Fuzz , and they are funny every time.

Sergeant Angel, a cranberry-juice-drinking teetotaler, nevertheless spends his first evening at the local pub. But for him, there is no such thing as off duty. He discovers a dozen or so underage drinkers, some actually wearing braces on their teeth, and he routs the place. This is why he has no friends.

When a rigid and intense man enters a place where sloth is a proud tradition, it’s more likely that the system will format him rather than he change the system. Angel’s predecessor, also a big city copper, when confronted with the lassitude of the local police force, had a total nervous collapse.

Angel is already on his way to a breaking point, or maybe Point Break. No sooner has he met the cast of quirky country bumpkins that populates the town than the locals start popping off in a series of hilariously gory "accidents". Angel is sure the rising body count is evidence of a serial killer. He even has a prime suspect: Mr. Skinner (malevolent matinee idol Timothy Dalton), the grocer, who says things like, "I’ll bet if we bashed your head in, all sorts of secrets would come tumbling out." "Murders?" crows police chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent); "We haven’t had a murder here in twenty years." Angel, apoplectic, splutters, "Have you ever wondered why the crime rate is so low, and the accident rate is so high?"

The joke is that Sergeant Angel is an urban action movie archetype trapped in the wrong genre: an English pastoral murder mystery. This sparks a spoof as thick as the Zucker Brothers movies, such as The Naked Gun — but richer, because the story would even work straight. And the film finds the right genialness in Angel’s sidekick, Constable Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the Chief’s son. Frost was previously paired with Simon Pegg in Pegg and Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead ; he has a way of sometimes whipping his partner into a frustrated froth, and sometimes actually getting the uptight guy to relax. In a way, the film is a love story.

The only real weakness of Hot Fuzz is that, when it kicks into action mode and becomes, as they say in Hollywood, "a no-holds barred adrenaline-pumping thrill ride," the filmmaking is lax; trimming twenty minutes would have done the trick. Even so, this is close to comic Nirvanha.

Reviewing movies for WFIU, this is Peter Noble-Kuchera

Peter Noble Kuchera

Originally from Columbus, Indiana, Peter moved to Bloomington in 1998. He completed four years of film study at the University of Minnesota and two years of film production in the Film Cities in St. Paul. He began reviewing movies for WFIU in 2003 and began producing on-air fundraising spots for WTIU in 2006. In 2008 he received a second place award for Best Radio Critic at the Los Angeles Press Club’s First Annual National Entertainment Journalism Awards in 2008. Peter passed away suddenly on June 8, 2009.

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