The team behind 2004’s cult sensation, Shaun of the Dead, have certainly come a long way in a short time, and the follow-up to that highly enjoyable zombie film parody is Hot Fuzz. This time their sights are set on over-the-top action pictures, with an emphasis on buddy cop films. (Bad Boys 2 and Point Break are favorite targets). But whereas zombie films are an easy target for clever filmmakers like director Edgar Wright and writer/star Simon Pegg, buddy cop pictures don’t have the same basic tropes. And in many ways, a film like Bad Boys 2 is so outrageous on its own merits that it doesn’t really need someone to poke fun at it. Any sophisticated viewer can already have tons of fun with the film.
Hot Fuzz is also hampered by poor pacing. The faster-than-you-can-spot-them references to popular films worked best in Wright and Pegg’s first project, the UK television series Spaced. Shaun of the Dead‘s 100-minute runtime was too long, and at two hours, Hot Fuzz is bogged down in an excruciatingly slow-moving first act, with far too much time given over to subplots and character development that never pay off. Pegg’s character, a hotshot London police officer who is reassigned to sleepy Sandford, also seems out of place. In the past, Pegg played a lovable slacker-one can imagine the role wasn’t that much of a stretch- but here he is completely unconvincing as a straitlaced cop with an impeccable record.
When the film finally bursts into action, only in its last half hour, it is a delight. Going all out in the violence and absurd catchphrase department, and of course with a healthy sense of self-awareness, the movie transforms into something special. But despite the presence of a veritable who’s who of U.K. comedy heavyweights, including Steve Coogan, Bill Bailey, and Martin Freeman, and with some legitimate acting chops added by the presence of Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent, Hot Fuzz is the least successful of the Pegg/Wright productions to date. This is not to say that the film is bad. It is merely extremely funny, only a problem if your loyal audience is used to the outrageously hilarious.