The Other Guys Directed by: Adam McKay Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: August 6, 2010
PLOT: When it comes to our heroes in blue, we're always looking up to the macho cops (Jackson, Johnson). Here, it's time to look down at the other guys (Ferrell, Wahlberg) who are usually doing the macho cops' paperwork. That is, until a building permit leads to the unraveling of multi-million dollar scheme.
WHO'S IT FOR? Were the films Anchorman, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, or Step Brothers responsible for any personal episodes of boisterous laughter? If so, you should already be checking showtimes for this one. And if last week’s Dinner for Schmucks wasn’t your cup of goof tea, then perhaps The Other Guys will be.
EXPECTATIONS: All previous McKay + Ferrell comedies have made me laugh silly. So because I wanted to enjoy this movie as much as possible, I abstained from any commercials or trailers, and went in with little idea of what this movie was about. Aware that it was at least a cop comedy, I was hoping that it didn’t remind me of less successful recent action comedies like Cop Out, for starters.
Will Ferrell as Allen Gamble: No one is going to praise Ferrell for playing a new character. This doesn’t mean, however, that he should be underestimated for still making his dorky methods work. This round, he plays a desk-job-loving “paperbitch” who would rather be armed with a pocket calculator than a gun. Ferrell does a great job here of playing the anti-cop, and of expanding the limits of that character. His best feature here is the failed containment of his “past.” Score: 7
Mark Wahlberg as Terry Hoitz: If the police station is like a high school, then Terry is the band geek classified as “the loser” who wants to play with the big kids (the “superstar cops"). Though he is given more action than Ferrell, Wahlberg doesn’t come into his already established “bad ass” – he avoids from playing the same type of macho that built his rough reputation. The actor balances out his presence with a solid handling of jokes also. While his co-star is clearly the best of the funny bunch, Wahlberg tunes into his inner goofball and does a good job trying to keep up. Score: 7
Michael Keaton as Captain Gene Mauch: Many of the main characters in McKay’s films are always colored with unsuspecting traits – this is certainly the case with Michael Keaton’s very amusing character. Going beyond the role of “crotchety cop who bosses around the protagonists,” he is a part-time worker at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and constantly makes subliminal references to TLC lyrics. Because of these quirks and more, he is probably the wackiest character of the group, something that Keaton doesn’t look like he could have any more fun with. Score: 6
Steve Coogan as Ershon: The comedian hardly has a moment to join in on the laughing fun of The Other Guys, as he is too busy being used as a serious device for a story that sometimes becomes a bit convoluted. It appears that Coogan is here to help the plot function, and not to add any bit of his own pizzazz to the humor. Score: 4
Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson as Danson and Highsmith: In a form of slight self-parody, these two represent “The Guys” we have come to worship in the justice system, (as opposed to Ferrell and Wahlberg’s “Other Guys.”) Their screen time is brief, but the very amusing laughs they bring are not. I wish I could remember Johnson’s last line – it should go down as one of the more excellent character sendoffs ever said. Score: 8
TALKING: Never actually on-screen, the gritty voice of Ice-T chimes in at the beginning and end to make a point about the unsung heroes of justice – literally, the “other guys.” As for the funny in the movie, whether they are improvised or not, there’s a great amount of hilarious one-liners in this movie. To repeat any of them here would be an injustice. And quotables? Yes, there are a few I can see picking up cult status, which has certainly happened with previous Ferrell/McKay movies. It remains to be seen which ones will stick. Score: 8
SIGHTS: Yes, this is a comedy. But McKay doesn’t use this as an excuse to let the energy of action slack. Especially in the beginning, the movie is supported by exciting (and more importantly, well-shot) action sequences. A wrecking ball is used to break into a building, a car drives through a bus, (and then out into the front of a shop,) etc. A lot of movies that stick to this genre strictly don’t have this much adrenaline. Score: 7
SOUNDS: A tender lullabye called “Pimps Don’t Cry,” as sung delicately by Eva Mendes and Will Ferrell in the middle of the film, is later given a full-studio treatment in a recording co-written by music producer Jon Brion. Last May’s Magruber posited its goofy themes for “justice,” but The Other Guys gives that soundtrack a run for its money - Allen’s inspiration comes from songs by tough-guy groups like the Little River Band, and also includes “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins. Overall, music is important to the funny of The Other Guys, with a selection of songs that make for a great soundtrack … which according to Amazon.com and iTunes, does not exist. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: The laughs are fired out at least once in a scene, but the most uproarious moment may be when Allen discusses his collegiate past, acting as an “accountant” for a “dating service” he started.
ENDING: The story of The Other Guys is given some modern relevance by a striking credit sequence that aims to educate its viewers on the bailout, and on our current financial status. Rage ATM (Against the Machine) muck up Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” for the occasion. It’s all with bold intention, but the question really comes down to, “Will people stay seated during the credits to actually watch diagrams and graphs?” Those who do stay are treated to a minute-long extra clip, which ends as an outtake.
QUESTIONS: Was there any specific reason as to why frequent co-writer Ferrell wasn’t included in this movie’s script process? Also, with the seriousness of the credits, I started to reflect about certain elements of the story – amongst big laughs and explosions, were the wild events of this action-comedy packing a few layers of political subtext?
REWATCHABILITY: It remains to be seen whether this movie will be as quotable as Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, or even Anchorman. Still, if I don’t get around to round two in theaters, the jokes in The Other Guys will probably still be as funny when I Netflix this when it comes to DVD.
Maybe because they're used to doing paper work, these Other Guys deliver. The new comedy from Ferrell and McKay is a successful balance of action and comedy, with explosive results from such a mixing. Will Ferrell is playing a similar dork type, but the seasoned funnyman has the ability to make his special delivery seem fresh. With the funniness distributed throughout the cast (even Keaton is very amusing) and the course of the film, The Other Guys makes for re-watchable hilarity almost in the same way Anchorman and Talladega Nights have proven to be.
While other genres are stumbling through the summer, it seems that the buddy comedy is doing just fine. First we had dinner with a few Schmucks, and now it's time to laugh a bit harder with The Other Guys.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10