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Move Along

"Hot Fuzz" busts crime movies for flagrant over-hyping.



There's a theory about British comedians having an advantage because of their accent. Maybe that explains the popularity bordering on awe of the parodies "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz." It helped further that "Shaun," a comedy that decapitated the zombie genre, had sense to hit the ground shuffling. Parodies don't need to explain themselves because we're already so familiar with the serious version.

"Hot Fuzz," a sendup of movies like "Point Break" and "Bad Boys," inexplicably spends a good hour or so setting up the idea that rural police officers Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) and his partner, Danny (Nick Frost), are the Crockett and Tubbs of a rural English village. Superfluous material abounds, and the result is a mainstream comedy in reverse, with all the really good stuff packed at the very end.

When we meet Officer Angel, he's a crack London crime-buster — so crack the rest of the police force wants him promoted (read removed) out of the city because he's making them look bad. It takes 20 minutes of zippy Wes Anderson-meets-Michael Bay montage to set that up. But when Angel arrives in the sleepy village of Sandford, where he's been reassigned, we must wait another hour or so for the point as "Fuzz" reinforces how sleepy the town is and how Angel's by-the-book tactics clash with his new surroundings. The point is, a slasher is preying on high-profile locals, and Angel and Danny must lock and load in order to stop the killer. It takes another 30 minutes or so to set that up.

"Hot Fuzz" is really funny during its last shootout, peaking, literally you'll see, at the very end. Viewers who come out of the movie loving the whole thing, however, must be amazingly patient folks, or maybe high. Yes, even the bad parts are meant to be jokes. The most repeated one in the first two-thirds regards the quick cuts and flash pans endemic of the genre being goofed on. This is supposed to be heated mocking, but it's more annoying than witty. Writers Pegg and Edgar Wright (who also directs) have assumed that hyperediting and bad dialogue slapdashed with deadpan parody will be understood and enjoyed. It's possible, but you have to really want to do that. "Hot Fuzz" has some great moments, but it also has far too many targets in its sights. (R) 121 min. *** S

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