A hilarious and highly entertaining follow-up to Shaun of the Dead, action-comedy Hot Fuzz re-teams writer-director Edgar Wright with writer-star Simon Pegg and very nearly tops its predecessor. Simultaneously a perfect send-up and loving parody of buddy-cop action films like Bad Boys II and Point Break (both of which are prominently featured), pic hits all the right notes right up to the action-filled climax. Cast is superb, especially Pegg as our wooden hero; he and director Wright also deserve a lot of credit for their script, which is right on target. Keep an eye out for numerous cameos (my favorite: Cate Blanchett) throughout.
Pegg is Sergeant Nicholas Angel, who is taken off the city beat because he´s ‘too good´ and assigned to the peaceful village of Sandford. Here he meets new partner Danny (Nick Frost), and his father, Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), who´s in charge of the local police force. Things seem too peaceful at first, with Danny longing for action and the duo´s biggest case involving a missing swan. But ghastly murder after ghastly murder (with some grandiose, over-the-top bloodletting) soon reveals there´s something rotten in Sandford. Despite the local´s claim that the beheadings, impalements, and stabbings are ‘just accidents´, Nicholas and Danny begin an investigation, with an eye on supermarket tycoon Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton). To some, the build-up may seem a bit slow, but things are carefully metered out with delicious wit and laugh-out-loud moments, punctuated by the inventive deaths; when things really get going by the end, however, they don´t let up for a second. And yet, the enigmatic, high-octane climax, despite the excitement, is where the film almost lost me; the bloodless gunplay pays appropriate homage to the John Woo action school but pales in comparison to the earlier bloodletting, resulting in a less-than-perfectly-satisfying conclusion. Just shy of a comedic masterpiece but wonderfully entertaining nevertheless.
Stale rom-com gives us layers of lackluster romance and broad comedy during an overlong 100 minutes, managing only to be offensive or embarrassing when it isn´t downright boring. Meddling mother Diane Keaton places an online advert to find Mr. Right for daughter Mandy Moore, screening candidates and conspiring to stage a romance with her man of choice. But will Moore choose Mom´s pick (a creepy Tom Everett Scott) or the warm-hearted musician who thinks mother may not know best? I wonder Moore is beautiful but bland, playing an underwritten character that does her no favors; costars Lauren Graham and (especially) Piper Perabo are completely wasted as her sisters, while Stephen Collins and Gabriel Macht are good as father-son love interests. Yet it´s Keaton who sinks it all, in a screeching, ditzy performance that could be generously described as nails-on-a-chalkboard; film only briefly comes alive during her unfortunately brief bout with laryngitis. But a once beloved, Oscar-winning actress gifted upon us by Coppola and Woody Allen has now been reduced to broad, stereotypical Dumb Dora roles that younger and less talented performers likely wouldn´t touch. Shame.