With the spoof genre degenerating into a limp series of audience-congratulatory pop-culture blips (hey, look, it's Lil John giving a Matrix kick to William Hung!), 2004's Shaun of the Dead proved a happy rarity—a parody that not only affectionately took the piss out of the whole cinematic zombie mythos, but also functioned as a full-blooded member of same. (It was an actual movie, in other words.) The eagerly anticipated Hot Fuzz continues along the same lines, this time setting its sights on the modern action flick. Once again, the creative team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg takes unusual care to craft an honest-to-god narrative to support the gags. They're so successful at it, actually, that their film almost loses sight of its ultimate purpose. Sad as it is to say, there're more than a few long stretches of just waiting around for a punch line.
The setup is gold: Hot-handed London supercop (Pegg) gets demoted for making the rest of the force look incompetent. Transferred to the sleepy countryside and saddled with a moronic sidekick (Shaun's Nick Frost), he languishes among the town's quaint eccentrics, until a series of outrageously gory murders force him to bring out the heavy artillery. Director Wright lays on the Bruckheimer swish pans and epileptic editing with a trowel, while the supporting cast delivers note-perfect renditions of stereotypical feel-good Brit cinema. But it's just kind of... slow.
Make no mistake: When it finally does go into full-tilt bombastic Michael Bay mode in the third act, Hot Fuzz is glorious. Unfortunately, given its pedigree, the film as a whole has to be marked as a bit of a disappointment, even if only in the sense that it should have been even better. Chop out 20 minutes or so, and this thing would be blinding.