Cop blocking

Nicholas Angel pays the price for being too good a cop in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s ‘Hot Fuzz’ – their follow-up to ‘Shaun of the Dead’

by Michael Garberich

Earlier this month, a wave of enthusiastic filmmaking by a small but prominent group of directors set forth what could be retrospectively seen (if they can stick around long enough to establish the heft of an official movement) as its apotheosis with the mashed-up, send-up pastiche of a tribute, “Grindhouse.”

“Hot Fuzz”

DIRECTED BY: Edgar Wright
STARRING: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jim Broadbent
PLAYING AT: Lagoon Cinema, 1320 Lagoon Ave.,, (612) 825-6006

The cinema of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino – along with Rob Zombie (“House of 1000 Corpses”) and, to a lesser extent, Eli Roth (“Hostel”) – is a type fit for and formed by the market, and you might imagine its prodigious auteurs walking the streets, brashly wearing their voluminous DVD collections on their sleeves. And far from elitist (no Criterion Collection here, bless their hearts and souls), it’s all about accessibility, fun and, most importantly, “film.” No! Too pretentious. How about “movies?” That’s better.

If you paid close attention to the credits after the second feature in “Grindhouse,” you might have noticed the name Edgar Wright credited for directing the fake trailer of the ludicrously conceptual, homespun splatter pun, “Don’t.”

Wright, along with actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, are Britain’s benumbed turn of the millennium slackers-cum-heroes whose corporate, office-space angst sustained them through a zombie-slaying rampage to save the world and get the girl in 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead.”

It’s one part parody, two parts homage to George A. Romero’s series of capitalist critiques via cannibalistic living dead, primarily “Dawn of the Dead,” its namesake and primary influence.

Well, the boys are back, and they’ve emptied another floor-to-ceiling shelf of DVDs. This time all guns and pyrotechnics ablaze as they make light of the bobby and all the lint that’s ever collected in Jerry Bruckheimer’s unfathomably deep pockets (with the notable exception of “Kangaroo Jack”).

Pegg’s dropped the malcontent hackery and picked up the guns as Nicholas Angel: a devoted, bureaucratic and politically correct officer of London’s Metropolitan Police, with a track record to make the other officers blush.

His overachievements reflect so poorly on the remaining and far less stellar members of the “force,” er Ö “service” (“force,” he says, citing a guidebook, sounds too aggressive) that he’s transferred to the idyllic “village of the year,” Sandford – a place where the streets are cobbled, the pastures are green and rolling and the only thing criminal is the local grocer’s (none other than James Bond alum Timothy Dalton) storewide sale.

His overzealous thirst for law enforcement quickly turns to ennui as his time is spent tracking down an escaped swan with fellow officer and interminable ne’er-do-well, Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman (The ironic surnames – Angel, Butterman, Skinner, Messenger – are another nod to the Bond franchise).

But a series of accidents – and with Wright they’re always delectably gruesome and absurd – unsettles Angel and the village, and the duo draws their weapons, inspired by Butterman’s love for bad Hollywood blockbuster action films like “Bad Boys II” and “Point Break.”

It’s clear that Butterman is the sympathetic stand-in for Wright’s own affair with guilty American pleasures, and, if we extend the metaphor, Angel’s the reluctant but ultimately won-over audience that need only perform its civic duty and enjoy the innumerable low brow, but no less esoteric, references (relish the shot-for-shot scenes ripped from “Lethal Weapon” and “Bad Boys II”).

Wright, Pegg and Frost have only collaborated on two films, but something in their sincere love for movies, couches and beer is so endearing that we can’t help but eagerly anticipate, remotes in hand, the monumental release of their complete box set on Criterion.