Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg don't simply parody their favorite genres of film and television, they skillfully mimic the most minute details that define those genres while simultaneously instilling them with their own unique comic sensibilities to create something truly original. Whereas the Scary Movie or The Naked Gun films are content to merely spoof the standards of their respective genres by cramming as many jokes about their targets as possible into the script, Wright and Pegg's efforts transcend self-aware mockery to actually fit into the genres that they appear to ridicule -- right down to the structure, characterization, and execution. With Spaced the duo offered a pop-culture-strewn spoof of the common television sitcom, with Shaun of the Dead they set their sights on the zombie apocalypse films and romantic comedies, and now, with Hot Fuzz, they have targeted the police detective film and the slam-bang action thriller -- specifically such overblown, testosterone-fueled shooters as Point Break and Bad Boys II.
As par for the course with Wright and Pegg, Hot Fuzz delivers a smart balance of visual gags, subtle jabs, and gut-busting laughs that will have most viewers planning a second viewing as soon as the credits begin to roll. Some jokes pay off in the very same scene as the setup, and others are smartly spread out through the span of the entire film. Likewise, the timing of each joke is expertly handled by ace editor Chris Dickens. Having been with team Wright-Pegg since the early days of Spaced, Dickens truly understands the comic sensibilities of his collaborators and deserves nearly as much credit as the writers themselves for his skillful handling of the material. But the timing isn't the only thing that Dickens does right, his aping of the frantic editing style so predominant in big-budget action blockbusters is so effective during the final showdown that viewers who stepped in late may momentarily mistake Hot Fuzz for a Michael Bay flick. Of course, anyone who is familiar with Spaced or Shaun of the Dead knows that the onscreen chemistry between writer/star Pegg and Cornetto-loving pal Nick Frost is reason enough alone to warrant the price of admission, and while it's great to see such familiar faces as Spaced's Julia Deakin and Shaun's Bill Nighy popping in to have some fun with old friends, it's the malevolent hand-wringing of Timothy Dalton, the carefree cake chomping of Jim Broadbent, and the mustachioed machismo of Paddy Considine that truly push Hot Fuzz over the top. As Shaun of the Dead proved it was indeed possible to entertain both well-versed horror fan and the adventurous mainstream audience in equal measure, Hot Fuzz maintains that smart sense of balance by walking the line between action and comedy in a way that will have keen-eyed action fetishists struggling to keep up with the nonstop film references as the rest of the crowd just sits back and laughs.