Gotta love the popo

“Hot Fuzz”Rogue PicturesDirected by Edgar WrightWritten by Edgar Wright and Simon PeggStarring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Rafe SpallRated R/121 minutesOpened April 20, 2007Three-and-a-half out of four stars

It’s only fitting that Edgar Wright and Co. have befriended the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. They’re all cut from the same mold. They desperately love the movies they grew up on and have built their entire careers on paying homage to and — particularly in Tarantino’s case — elevating anything and everything to the level of high art.

Wright and star/co-writer Simon Pegg’s latest film “Hot Fuzz” may not be aiming for high art, per se, but?well, who says everything has to be high art? I wouldn’t want this movie any other way. This is damn fine moviemaking, fellas. Damn fine.

Like their predecessors, what Wright and Pegg have done is take specific genres and simultaneously parody and reproduce them. They affectionately poke fun while passionately wanting to emulate everything that makes these genres great.

They want to have their cake and eat it, too, and for once this actually proves possible.

Twice, actually.

They already did it with the zombie genre in the brilliant “Shaun of the Dead,” and now, with “Hot Fuzz,” they’ve taken to action movies. More specifically, buddy action-comedies in the tradition of “Lethal Weapon” and?well, you name it. It’s a shopworn genre.

Wright, Pegg and costar Nick Frost know that and use it to their advantage. When hotshot city policeman Nicholas Angel (Pegg) gets transferred to the small, seemingly innocent town of Sandford and paired with the completely incompetent Danny Butterman (Frost), it’s clear that this mismatched duo will eventually become the best of crime-fighting pals. And so they play with all the angles we’ve seen dozens of times before-the latent homoeroticism between two partners, the “by-the-book” strategy versus flying by the seat of your pants.

Needless to say, they have a bonding moment while drunkenly watching a climactic scene from action schlock-fest “Point Break.”

The filmmakers behind “Hot Fuzz” never try to hide their intentions, and yet they come up with some ingenious ways to keep our collective guard up. They toy with our expectations by making everything so plainly obvious?and then taking it in a new direction that only works because it goes completely against the most obvious answers. For example, the first line spoken by Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton, twirling as much mustache as a movie villain can twirl) is “Arrest me! I’m a slasher!”

Of course, he’s talking about slashing prices, but is there any doubt-especially considering how diabolical Dalton’s performance is-that he is, indeed, the bad guy? Of course not. But what isn’t quite as obvious is the way he fits into anything. How could it be? All the clues are set in place and we can easily connect them in the most obvious ways possible — or in other words, in the ways all other action movies explain these things. But then things turn out completely different — not because it makes any sense, but because Wright and Pegg are just having fun with conventions of the genre. They deconstruct everything from action sequences and camerawork to dramatic one-liners — basically, everything we’ve come to know and love about action movies.

Strange things are afoot in Sandford, as a series of bizarre “accidents” have killed some of the locals. Angel naturally deduces that these aren’t accidents at all, but the rest of the town is perfectly content to pass them off as mere misfortune and go about their quaint little lives. Even the two lead inspectors, Andy Wainright and Andy Cartwright — or “the Andys” — refuse to believe that anything unsavory is going on. The Andys (Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall) might be the two funniest characters in the movie.

If the film doesn’t feel quite as fresh as “Shaun of the Dead,” that’s more a tribute to that movie than a knock against this one.

As it is, “Hot Fuzz” provides an adrenaline kick of a pure action flick and a constant barrage of self-conscious belly laughs at the same time. Everything that action movies do well, this movie does. Only it does it with a wink and a smile — and even a hint of proper British etiquette.

“Oh, yeah, messin’ with the camera lens. We are so cool. If only we had hair like Chris Bellamy. If only. If only.” The gang from “Hot Fuzz” strikes a pose.