Hot Fuzz is full to the brim with scene-stealing talent. With Simon Pegg and Nick Frost at the helm in the second installment of their Cornetto Trilogy with Edgar Wright, they may be at the centre of some of the biggest laughs, but it’s the solid group of supporting actors who really lift this film to its lofty heights as a comedy classic.
There’s Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Olivia Colman, Bill Bailey (in no less than two roles), Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Adam Buxton, Alice Lowe – the list is seemingly endless. Throw into the mix a cameo from Peter Jackson as a knife wielding Santa, and you have, arguably, one of the best lineups in British comedy history.
Every character in the film is completely spot-on, and with incredibly talented actors playing them, it would be easy to argue that many of the roles could be considered “scene-stealing” in Hot Fuzz. But it is hard to ignore that some of the funniest one-liners come from two individuals who go out of their way to make the main characters’ lives as difficult as possible.
Hot Fuzz centres on Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), an overachieving London cop sent to a sleepy village in the West Country. The majority of police officers that Angel finds himself suddenly working alongside are hapless, under-trained, and ignorant of the rules around modern-day police enforcement. They may be bumbling their way through day-to-day police work, but on the whole they’re still pretty willing to get their teeth into a proper investigation.
That’s except for the two resident detectives, DS Andy Wainwright (Considine) and DC Andy Cartwright (Spall) – the “Andys”, who take an instant disliking to Angel’s city ways. Even with a potentially huge murder case to investigate, they would much rather sit locked in their office, smoking away and taking the piss out of Sgt. Angel whenever the chance arrives.
They’re the two idiots in class who think they’re hilarious, even though no one else does, and when you look at them closely, they really only have each other as friends. Without any proper crimes to investigate, they have become lazy and unhelpful, but also very, very funny. In the previous Cornetto installment Shaun of the Dead, Spall had a small role as the uncooperative teenager that Pegg’s Shaun unfortunately had to work alongside. He may have only had a few minutes’ screen-time, but Spall fitted in perfectly with Pegg and Wright’s very British style of sarcastic, self-deprecating comedy. Much of his character in Shaun can be seen in the only very slightly more grown-up role of DC Cartwright.
Considine, on the other hand, was a newcomer to the team with Hot Fuzz, having previously starred in films such as Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes, 24 Hour Party People, and Cinderella Man, alongside Russell Crowe. Since then, both Considine and Spall have gone on to have hugely successful careers on both sides of the pond.
Together as the two Andys, they bounce off each other perfectly, finishing each other’s sentences and sniggering at the same childish jokes – sometimes involving whether or not a car left any skidmarks – or shouting out “prick!” while Angel opens the local village fete. And when Angel tries to prove serious points regarding unexplained deaths in the village, detectives Cartwright and Wainwright are always there as a barrier, responding with eye-rolls, sticking two fingers up, and instantly dismissing anything that could involve them actually doing any work. Wright’s sharp editing style and the quick-fire dialogue is used to perfection when it comes to delivering their snappy and brilliantly funny lines.
Hot Fuzz, in itself, is pretty much the perfect example of just how good British comedies can be, as well as a showcase for the incredible wealth of comic talent we have on offer. It’s also a shining example that double acts come in all kinds of unexpected and hilarious forms – from Pegg and Frost, to Considine and Spall. It also serves as a reminder that where there’s a know-it-all do-gooder, there’s always a smartarse not far behind, waiting to take them down a peg or two.