Title: The Other Guys
Directed By: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Steve Coogan
Not only do buddy cop comedies come with a major stigma, but so do both of the stars of The Other Guys, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The guys are guilty of doing the same thing in just about every film, Ferrell in terms of his comedic style and Wahlberg, well, with acting in general. The Other Guys primarily stays within the subgenre mold and Ferrell and Wahlberg remain in their comfort zones, but the film has just enough freshness to it that it makes more of the same acceptable.
Samuel L Jackson and Dwayne Johnson are Highsmith and Danson, New York City’s top cops. They drive the hottest car, sleep with all the ladies, earn medals and cause as much destruction as possible while catching the bad guys. When their reign comes to an abrupt end, it leaves a vacancy in the city’s hero department. That’s where the other guys come in, Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz (Ferrell and Wahlberg), or as the boys at the station like to call them, Paper Bitch and Yankee Clipper. Allen is always happily buried in paperwork, the trigger happy Terry is constantly losing his temper and both are notorious for screwing up. But they finally get the chance to earn some respect when they stumble upon a high profile case.
The Other Guys is a slightly above average buddy comedy with somewhat smarter gags than we’re used to seeing Ferrell deliver. Rather than sport an outrageous outfit like in Blades of Glory or resort to bunk bed-collapsing gags like in Step Brothers, Ferrell is blandly dressed and actually evokes more laughs with his calm demeanor. However, this is Ferrell we’re talking about here and if you’ve seen the film’s trailer you know there’s some psychical and more outlandish shenanigans. But seeing Ferrell go berserk in a botched good cop, bad cop plan is far less amusing than the moments during which he drives Terry nuts by just acting normal.
Terry earns his fair share of laughs in a different way, by throwing temper tantrums. It works in most cases like when he berates Allen for his music selection or when he gets himself into a silent fight, but overall, the character teeters upon being too mean spirited. He does cool off as the film goes on, but in the beginning, he’s particularly harsh on Allen. Yes, Allen is far from your average cop and is a bit peculiar, but he’s also far from your average buddy comedy moron and certainly doesn’t deserve the hefty handful of verbal abuse from Terry.
Terry’s conscious effort to be nicer to his partner doesn’t only earn him major points, it makes their relationship much more appealing and actually compels you to root for them. Unfortunately they can’t get you on their side firmly enough because when the plot goes fuzzy at the end and their case of someone just failing to report the construction of scaffolding turns into some massive scheme to pay back a company for failed investments, a major disconnect develops. The main characters are likable, but not enough to allow for the dismissal of plot problems.
But even with the confusion and failed gags, director Adam McKay always knows how to regain your attention, with some serious action. Some of the most impressive moments in The Other Guys aren’t the laugh out loud instants from Ferrell and Wahlberg, but the explosions and car chases. McKay really knows what he’s dong when capturing high-speed action, practically making some moments as heart pumping as a base heavy music video. The cuts are quick, powerful and perfectly timed and not one shot in the sequences is stagnant. The rest of McKay’s work is pretty standard expect for one other moment during which Terry and Allen go on a booze binge. The entire scene consists of one shot that seamlessly goes from snapshot to snapshot of the events of the night – beer spilling, Allen urinating on a pool table and Terry firing his weapon. You know? The usual.
The Other Guys doesn’t compare to Ferrell’s best work and doesn’t get Wahlberg any closer to escaping Andy Samberg’s “Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals,” but it’s still a valiant and enjoyable effort on both of their parts. The typical tiresome buddy cop shticks are there, but there’s enough timely jokes and innovative cinematography to keep the movie feeling fresh the entire way through, during the credits and even thereafter.
By Perri Nemiroff