Monday, August 9, 2010

The Other Guys (2010)

I've always had a soft spot for Will Ferrell comedies. Not all of them, mind you; he got stuck in a sports rut there for a few years that resulted in constantly diminishing returns. But he's got a considerable comedic talent, particularly in quick improv, which is what made him such a perfect fit for Saturday Night Live. When that's stretched out into movie form, its never a comedic masterpiece, but in a good Ferrell movie there's enough big laughs to skim over the weaker parts (Anchorman is the best example of this, with Talladega Nights and, to an extent, Step Brothers affirming it).
Reuniting with frequent director Adam McKay, Ferrell stars as Det. Allen Gamble, a nebbish police accountant who is perfectly happy at his desk job. His parter, Terry Hoitz (an angry Mark Wahlberg), would much rather be out on the streets again (he accidently shot Derek Jeter; this drew a round of applause at my screening from Yankee haters) being a supercop like Highsmith or Danson (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson respectively, in likably meatheaded roles). When the two of them stumble upon a financial fraud led by a seedy corporate investor (Steve Coogan), both men finally get a chance to step out from behind the curtain and be the heroes of the city.
The film aspires to be a loving play on the buddy-cop movie, and its a fairly decent genre picture itself. All of the hallmarks of the genre are present, but they're beefed-up just enough to remind us of how ridiculous these movies can be (the opening scene itself looks like something straight out of the Brett Ratner playbook, and another scene has a magnificent Bayian explosion). At the same time, through all of the extravagence, Gamble and Hoitz seem like a pair that would never really work, and yet feels believable by the end of the film. Credit this mostly to McKay, who's previously proven himself to be a very light-and-loose director but creates some really incredible scenes here, particularly a guns-blazing flurry of an action scene and a very inventive and amusing scene in which Gamble and Hoitz go out drinking.
Wahlberg and Ferrell
The problem with this film, though is that the humor is oddly neutered. Sure, there are some hilarious bits, such as when Gamble and Hoitz argue over who would win between a lion and a tuna (again, a testament to how Ferrell and McKay bring out the best in each other), but for the most part much of the film's humor is fairly standard been-there, done-that. Ferrell doesn't really entertain much as a boring dweeb, and Wahlberg mostly shouts his way through his performance, obviously a little uncomfortable with the film's improvised nature. Eva Mendes shows up as Gamble's impossibly hot wife (I didn't for a moment believe their pairing), and Michael Keaton makes a return to comedy as a TLC-referencing police captain. And Coogan is horrendously underused, given next to nothing to do.
The Other Guys is a perfectly adequate comedy, good for a few laughs, but when it promised so much more, its a little disappointing. But chances are, if you are absolutely in love with everything Ferrell does, you'll love this one, and if you hate his films, nothing here will change your mind.


Simon said...

I thought it was pretty funny, considering. Walhberg and Ferrell make a good team, at least.

Jason H. said...

They do make a good team. I really hope they do another movie together; now that Wahlberg's had experience with this sort of thing, find a project where they can both let loose and watch the peacocks fly.