The Other Guys
The Other Guys is a delightfully hilarious yet all too by-the-book cop movie farce that pays homage to The Odd Couple but mostly serves up Will Ferrell just how the masses like him, loud, goofy and out of control. We as a movie-going public have done far worse for ourselves over the years (Talladega Nights still makes me wonder), but this one while good could have been something special with just a little bit more creativity and backbone. Ferrell plays Allen, a man of many contradictions who is a detective by trade though to him that basically means filling out police reports and actively staying out of the line of fire. His partner Terry (Mark Wahlberg, great as expected) is also a paper pusher as ever since he capped Derek Jeter in the knee during the World Series he has been forced to ride the pine. One day while crunching numbers Allen comes across a seemingly dull real estate infraction involving the nauseatingly rich David Ershon (Steve Coogan) and embarks on bringing him down. Of course, it isn’t long before his attempt to avoid the action has him staring death right in the face.
The comedy pairing of Ferrell and Walhberg works magic though here was hoping that Wahlberg would have brought a bit more of his persona from The Departed just to draw a starker contrast. Ferrell turns in one of his better performances here even though he spends about half the film stiffer than he was in Stranger Than Fiction. Watch for the scene early on where he condescendingly lectures Walhberg about the reality of his hypothetical rumble between a lion and tuna. Director Adam McKay (also responsible for Talladega, damn him) tries to have things both ways as he mocks the cliches that make up these cop flicks while also dabbling in them at the same time. Anybody who knows anything about Hollywood, however, would expect nothing less. One unexpected gag early on works especially well as it points out the absurdity surrounding the fact that in this genre bravado always trumps death.
Since Ferrell’s most hardcore fans tend to be about 18 years old most of his films, including this one, suffer from some sort of juvenile delinquency. At one point McKay stages back to back scenes, neither of which is funny, that first finds Ferrell singing historical songs in a bar and then shows us Wahlberg dancing ballet to impress a chick. There is also the extra raunchy sex talk and gratuitous Grand Theft Auto references (nothing against either of those things) that are just mixed in for the sake of pandering. At times my own immaturity did get the best of me. Allen confusing Good Cop/Bad Cop with Bad Cop/Bad Cop probably took a quarter brain cell to write but still delivered. Also, the flashback to Allen’s college days in which he unwittingly becomes a pimp in charge of a slew of coeds was fun and mischievous. Rob Riggle provides back up as a debauched cop trying to be the next big thing, he’s hilarious and should be on his way to the top.
New Yorkers also have other reasons to appreciate this film as it clearly has a love affair with the Big Apple. Besides featuring famous landmarks and using them for more than just window dressing they went ahead and cast some of the cities hottest comedy stars, Chris Gethard and Ben Schwartz, two men about to break into the mainstream. McKay is an adequate director. His gunfight/car chase near the end feels like a motion that he was contractually obligated to go through, but a roving freeze frame montage depicting Allen and Terry’s night out on the town felt very original. He also caught a bit of good luck by having Coogan play the villainous banker because for the past four months we have gotten used to hating another sleazy rich guy from England who has trouble with the truth (Tony Hayward). Then, in an interesting twist, right at the very end McKay tries to turn his film into a populist screed against the financial institution, which is fine and dandy with me but I am left to wonder why he held out so long before showing his cards. No matter, the movies works as a wild comedy that will transcend both its time and its politics.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Steve Coogan, Michael Keaton
Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Adam McKay and Chris Henchy
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures