Unlike countless others, including Quentin Tarantino, I was somewhat disappointed with 'Shaun Of The Dead', at least on first viewing (perhaps if they'd seen 'Spaced' they would have understood why). Consequently, I was rather more circumspect in approaching 'Hot Fuzz', Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's second full-length film - and while it is probably superior to its predecessor, it's by no means a classic.
As in 'Shaun Of The Dead', much of the comedy comes from the ordinariness of the peculiarly English setting in which the extraordinary events unfold. Centred upon a sleepy village with a dark secret, the film doesn't so much parody as pay homage to 'The Wicker Man' - and, it must be said, 'Midsomer Murders'.
Potentially tedious horror cliche is avoided predominantly by virtue of its being a comedy (though never an uproariously funny one), but also by the incorporation of Pegg and Wright's trademarks, first established in 'Spaced': sharp, crisp dialogue; quick cut-up scenes; clever verbal and visual clues and recurrent motifs over and above the frequently subtle nods to other films and TV programmes.
'Hot Fuzz' changes direction sharply about two-thirds of the way through, and does so unashamedly - indeed, it positively revels in its new identity as a shoot-'em-up buddy movie, as do Pegg and co-star Nick Frost, no doubt thrilled at having access to a Hollywood budget and consequently the opportunity to live out adolescent fantasies. But, as well-shot as these frantic action scenes are, they do start to become a little wearing.
More exasperating, though, is what I'll refer to as 'Extras' syndrome, after Ricky Gervais' vanity project - namely, that the mere appearance of famous people in comic circumstances (whether comic actors or not) is regarded by the writers as inherently funny. Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton are afforded central roles, and both turn in superb performances, but too many actors have been cast only to provoke viewers into exclaiming "Oh look, it's ...". Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Stephen Merchant and Bill Bailey all fall into this category.
All that said, it's probably a better film than I've made out - and that's why I opted against "Not much cop" or "Tepid fuzz" as titles for the post...
Alan's review on Random Burblings