When I see a new Will Ferrell movie coming out from the guy who brought us Step Brothers andTalladega Nights, I’m expecting a laugh-a-minute gut-busting experience. Throw Mark Wahlberg into the mix (be still my beating heart!) and how could this possibly get any better? I keep discovering that those in the “biz” are full of surprises, either to the delight or disappointment of the people who supply their paychecks: the audience. One thing is for sure, The Other Guys is full of surprises, and has an unexpected hidden agenda as well.
“NYPD Detectives Christopher Danson and P.K. Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) are the baddest and most beloved cops in New York City. They don’t get tattoos – other men get tattoos of them. Two desks over and one back, sit Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). You’ve seen them in the background of photos of Danson and Highsmith, out of focus and eyes closed. They’re not heroes – they’re “The Other Guys.”
But every cop has his or her day and soon Gamble and Hoitz stumble into a seemingly innocuous case no other detective wants to touch that could turn into New York City’s biggest crime. It’s the opportunity of their lives, but do these guys have the right stuff?” (Sony Pictures’ “The Other Guys” official website)
The first scene in The Other Guys gets you pumped for an intense ride by throwing a crazy, over-the-top car chase complete with explosions and tons of humor in your face. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Sam Jackson have great chemistry, but we all knew they wouldn’t be around for long. It’s too bad, because I could have watched a whole movie based around the two of them and their characters. But life goes on, and we are introduced to Gamble and Hoitz who are the “other guys.” Ferrell plays the ultimate square: happiest when behind a desk doing paperwork for the beloved hero-cops, drives a Prius, and loves his adult contemporary music. Wahlberg plays the typical angry cop with a chip on his shoulder and who’s just a few bullets short of a full magazine. Put the two together, and there are some very funny blunders awaiting you.
Director and writer Adam McKay ropes in all the improvisational riffs that we have come to love and expect from Ferrell, and couples them with some well thought out comedic scenes. I don’t want to touch on too many of them and ruin it for you, but a particular scene where a fight breaks out at a police funeral had the entire audience doubled over. I’m also pretty sure that we are going to see a surplus of new favorite quotes hitting the web, including “I’m a peacock! You got to let me fly!” The problem I had with The Other Guys though, was the storyline itself. It was like McKay couldn’t find a way to keep the comedy rolling when it was time to progress the story, so I found myself a little bored at times and counting the minutes until the comedy kicked back in. This is what ultimately makes the difference between, say, Anchorman or Talladega Nights and The Other Guys. There were just a few too many scenes that seemed to drag on and on.
The reason for the dragging moments has to do with the story itself and the hidden agenda topic that they didn’t show you in all the trailers. The themes of the plot revolve around anti-capitalism and the evils of the corporate bailouts. Now I understand that current events can be a real catalyst for some very funny comedy, but the way this plot was laid out made it entirely too much like a lecture and less like an SNL skit. I guess I’m just of the opinion that movies should be an enjoyable release from the constant barrage of heated political topics we have screaming at us from the media. If you want to poke fun at it, fine. Just don’t preach to me while I’m trying to drown all those thoughts out in an action-packed comedy.
While he may have had a few blunders with the story, McKay made up for it with some great direction and some fantastically creative scenes. There is a montage that really caught my eye in which Hoitz and Gamble hit a bar, and the whole shot is filmed with high-def 360 degree Matrix-style camera work. It begins at the front of the bar, showing the duo taking shots, progresses further into the bar showing them tossing drinks in the air. It continues further and further back with each shot of them working up to a hilarious drunken finale with guns blazing and relieving themselves in public. The scene made me hope and pray that more directors will follow suit. Montages can get really drab, but this is one that I never wanted to stop.
Most of the actors were on their game in The Other Guys. Of course Farrell was great, as well as Jackson and The Rock, but some smaller parts were cleverly cast with the likes of Michael Keaton and Eva Mendes, who really put the icing on the cake. The only odd man out seemed to be Wahlberg. I love him in everything he does, but there were moments where you can tell he was a little out of his element trying to do a comedic role. A few jokes went stale and a few more suffered because of his timing and forced ‘tough guy’ persona.
Overall, The Other Guys is a pretty solid comedy, if you can get past some of the rough patches and the in-your-face political statements. It’s like shooting a .45 caliber handgun for the first time; you hit some, you miss some, but at the end of the day you still shot a big boy gun and had a kick-ass time doing it.
I give The Other Guys 4 “Horizontal Stipper Poles” out of 5.