Those Shaun of the Dead guys are at it again. Having put a comedic stake through the heart of the zombie movie, they are now going after brainless cop films. Simon Pegg, the clueless Shaun in the last film, here plays crackerjack cop Sergeant Nicholas Angel, whose ruthless efficiency is so dispiriting to his colleagues that they send him off to a sleepy suburb to make sure he will stop making them look bad by comparison.
And so, instead of tracking down murderers and drug dealers, Angel is stuck in a relentlessly quaint little village, sort of a Masterpiece Theatre version of Mayberry, with a touch of Kinkade and a gloss from the British Tourism Bureau. Instead of high-speed chases with squealing breaks and kevlar vests, he finds himself carding teenagers in a pub and trying to find a wayward swan. Oh, he tries to keep up his record. Even before he officially starts work, he makes an arrest, a drunk who turns out to be not just the son of the local police chief but his new partner, Danny Butterman (fellow “Shaun” veteran Nick Frost).
The closest Danny has come to crime is his comprehensive DVD library of every single cop film ever made. He dreams of being like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys II. He wants to go on a high-speed pursuit and fire two guns at once while jumping through the air. But he’s stuck in Sandford, which might as well be named Quicksandford from Angel’s point of view.
Is this one of those movies where the tough guy gets all cuddly and finds out what really matters, like Kindergarten Cop? I am relieved to say it is not. This is one of those movies where sleepy little Sandford turns out to have a crime rate that would terrify the Bad Boys and carnage that would horrify even the implacable Keanu Reeves of Point Break.
Wright and Pegg have a lot of fun transplanting the tropes of big Hollywood buddy cop explosion movies to a seemingly sleepy little village. As with “Shaun,” director Wright (whose work can also be glimpsed in the faux trailer for “Don’t” in the faux double feature “Grindhouse”) is very good at using quick-cut ironic juxtapositions, graphic images, and unexpected behavior — good and bad — from people we think we know to excellent comic effect.
Parents should know that this is a very grisly comedy with extremely graphic, blood-spurting violence. Heads are chopped off. A woman is stabbed in the chest with scissors and a man is stabbed in the hand. Many characters are shot. There are also images of dead and decomposing bodies and skeletons. The violence is comic but it is very explicit. Characters smoke and drink a great deal and get drunk (many scenes in a pub). They use very strong language. There are sexual references, including adultery.
Families who see this movie should talk about how the people who made it were inspired by the films they saw. They might also like to talk about some of the film techniques used to tell the story, including the quick cuts and sped-up footage.