By Felix Vasquez Jr. | March 28, 2007

What separates the “Shaun…” trio from other “fanboy” filmmakers like Eli Roth, and Quentin Tarantino? Simply, in order to find the numerous pop culture references, you’d best pay attention. One of the thrills of being a fellow pop culture junkie (and card carrying member of the “Spaced” fanclub) is watching three other passionate pop culture junkies like Wright, Frost, and Pegg do their thing on screen. Because as a Mr. Will Smith once declared: They make this s**t look good.

Where as “Shaun” was 45 percent comedy and 55 percent horror, be aware that “Hot Fuzz” is 60 percent over the top action film, and 40 percent comedy, yet when the crew wants to make the audience laugh, they do so with gags that don’t resort to the low brow. “Hot Fuzz” is not a spoof, but their love song to the action genre with their own devices thrown in.

Nicholas Angel is a police officer for the London department, a man who follows the rules, is married to his job, and plays no games. He’s tough as nails, devoted to his work, and is too good at what he does; which is why he’s been transferred to the West Country village of Sandford, the perfect small town with the lowest crime rate in the world, thanks to his jealous superiors.

Nicholas has found the move utterly torturous, especially when his days of “law enforcement” now involve rounding up escaped swans, and busting under age drinkers. But when villagers begin to turn up dead, Nicholas senses foul play afoot and is determined to prove the village’s high accident rate is due to orchestrated murders.

Once again, Wright and crew know their genre, and they know damn well how to compose a beautiful action film that’s over the top without being ridiculous and unique without being absurd. Frost’s one-liners matched with Pegg’s deadpans and double-takes make the film a laugh riot quite often, and they’re the perfect buddy comedy team to head up the film. It’s not a surprise the trio are thick as thieves. Pegg and Frost have a wonderful chemistry, while Wright compliments their timing with ace direction.

Pegg reverts from the slacker Shaun to the militant career man Nicholas without missing a beat, always sticking to the rules and guidelines, even in social situations, and expressing restrained befuddlement at the town’s often unbearable quirks and eccentric denizens.

The thrill of “Hot Fuzz” is the chemistry between Nicholas and local oaf Danny Butterman, who is an action film aficionado and finds Nicholas’ stories utterly engrossing. The two form an unlikely bond and rather touching friendship, unveiling the mystery in the town and attempting to foil the millionaire Simon Skinner (played with devious gusto by Timothy Dalton), who possibly plays a big hand in the “accidents.”

“Hot Fuzz” is a different kind of film from “Shaun.” It is brighter, much more fast-paced, and Wright’s direction is chaotic. He manages to pay perfect homage, referencing the styles of Tony Scott, John Woo, and Michael Mann, with scenes lifted from “Bad Boys,” and “Point Break,” movies Wright makes a special note of mentioning numerously. Yarb.

“Hot Fuzz” has a simple story. There is nothing involving drug lords, or the mafia, and the trio never resorts to the atmosphere of a big budget blockbuster; it’s a compact action comedy that swerves into directions you won’t suspect. And Pegg plays the authoritarian Angel, with enough temperament to keep audiences on his side, even when he’s being difficult. Frost once again plays sidekick, this time as a fan boy anxious to prove himself relevant in such a small town, and he is the perfect opposite to Pegg.

Packed with veterans (Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Paddy Considine, and Jim Broadbent, respectively), gritty action sequences, and simply hysterical gags, the “Spaced” team once again ushers in another surefire cult classic that will leave fan boys debating for years over which film is the better of the two offerings, missing the bigger picture. This is their gift to the movie buffs. This is their “thanks” to the action genre. Enjoy it. I sure as hell did.

How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

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