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Hot Fuzz

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The gang behind the zombie rom-com Shaun of the Dead now directs its affectionate and obsessive pop-culture spoofing toward a pair of genres heretofore never combined: the English-village murder cozy and the gun-heavy American high-octane cop-buddy actioner. That the twain should never meet -- and do -- is the spine upon which writer-director Edgar Wright and his co-writer and star Simon Pegg hang many gags and clever asides (just note the characters' names). For every obvious gross-out joke or pratfall, the pair lay a landmine for a brilliant pay-off in the chaotic last reel (I laughed hardest when co-star Nick Frost simply asked, "Pub?"). There's a busload of British TV and film thespians onboard, and the homages run the gamut from Agatha Christie to The Wicker Man to such stone-cold classics as Point Break and Bad Boys 2. At nearly two hours, it's a trifle self-indulgent, but what beloved shoot-'em-up -- and BBC mystery series -- isn't? Lock and load, lads.

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