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Dinah’s Rating: 5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.2/10
(4 reviews total)
You know how when you get fajitas and the server brings it to you there’s steam rising from the pan? The plate literally sizzles at first, but soon enough it cools, with nothing but some bubbles popping in the juice before the dish grows cold. The Other Guys is a good feast, but like those fajitas, it doesn’t stay fire hot for long.
With the current economy and the worry it brings, opportunities to laugh would seem the best moneymakers for theaters. However, 2010 is not a ripe year for comedy. There is no standout such as last year’s The Hangover that has spawned a new trend. No single movie has been so funny it rallied critics and audiences alike. Soft comedies or family films such as Grown Ups have had staying power, but inevitably just weren’t laugh-out-loud amusing.
Adam McKay’s latest partnership with Will Ferrell centers around Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) a forensic accountant overjoyed at completing paperwork for muscle cops Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwane Johnson). Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) spends his days playing solitaire on his police computer due to being demoted to desk duty for a shooting incident. Gamble stumbles upon a crime that takes the buddy cops on an adventure they aren’t ready to handle.
The simple summary provided by studio executives isn’t quite what you get in the finished product and that’s a good thing. There are many more funny jokes than what is in the trailers, a rarity for most comedies. I’ll avoid details, but the crime is certainly timely and more political than expected. Still, having an agenda doesn’t detract from the inevitably silly movie.
All the cop clichés are on display including sleeping on the job, wasting taxpayer dollars, and being underpaid. McKay uses more comedic tools than mere backdrop to send up buddy films. At both opportune and impractical moments, a sudden saxophone melody resembling old cop dramas in ’80s television plays from one scene to the next. There is also plenty of slow motion, nonsensical one liners and preposterous action sequences to mock other action films.
The director uses restraint, rarely using the same gimmick twice or when you expect it. There is a frenetic car chase that makes use of shaky cam, but this technique is never used again. Hoitz is able to take on multiple assailants nearly effortlessly using an unexpected weapon but the sudden prowess comes and goes. The little red Prius, Gamble’s official police vehicle, gets a heck of a product placement though; it is as indestructible as the Batmobile.
Performances are strong all around though some cameos were unnecessary. Per usual when it comes to marketing female roles, Eva Mendes screen time was vastly exaggerated in previews. Her interplay with Hoitz as Sheila was one of the funnier running jokes. Nothing tops early appearances by Jackson and Johnson. The two play their shtick to the hilt as arrogant over-doers. Their comings and goings are the most memorable spoofs in the movie.
The smaller cameos were a bit perplexing. Anne Heche played a part virtually anyone could have done. Having a named actor in her role was distracting; it makes you think that you’ll see her furthering the plot along at some point but she doesn’t. Appearances by Rosie Perez, Tracy Morgan, and Brooke Shields were sort of a waste. Only Derek Jeter and Ice T provide anything notable to the story.
Ferrell does do what he does best — act like an idiot. Audiences know by now that his thing is to play oblivious. The “Oh! He’s flying” or “Ooh! A helicopter” nonsense would have been a turnoff if it continued. Instead, Ferrell gets a dark side halfway through the film and starts acting like he has just a little sense. Michael Keaton emerges from the shadows as the Police Captain moonlighting as a salesman at Bed, Bath & Beyond just to make ends meet. His scattered scenes were always refreshing.
The Other Guys isn’t a hall-of-fame buddy picture, but it is an enjoyable movie. Ferrell’s slightly subdued performance, a strong supporting cast, and infrequent, outlandish and hilarious action make for good entertainment. The political musings and pop culture references set it apart and the good natured razzing distinguishes The Other Guys as one of the funnier films in a humorless 2010.
The Other Guys
Written and Directed by Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Eva Mendes
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Simon thought: “Despite a running length about 20 minutes too long and a front-loaded comedic premise, The Other Guys is extremely fun, especially for those who appreciate the buddy cop genre and found Kevin Smith’s attempt with Cop Out severely lacking. Stealing the show with bravado are Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as two hot shot cops, who I would love to see in a spin-off of their own, in fact, the entire cast is firing on all cylinders. Even Eva Mendes owns her scenes as the smokin’ wife of Ferrel’s character, as does Michael Keaton as the police chief and Steve Coogan as the suspect of the other guys’ investigation. Recovering nicely from the unwatchable disaster that was Land of the Lost, this spoof finds Ferrel in his best form since Blades of Glory and works extremely well off of Mark Wahlberg. It is good to see Ferrel playing a character closer to his role in Stranger than Fiction, than the doofus’ he normally plays in movies such as Semi-Pro. Director Adam McKay seems to provide the winning formula for the former SNL star, so here’s hoping we see more collaborations in the future.” Rating” 7/10
Steven thought: “The buddy cop comedy sub-genre has been limping about Hollywood as if shot in the leg from an awry 9mm bullet. Now it’s been found by the duo of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, whose brand of contemporary idiot humor has been steadily met with compounding criticism the last few years. But the combination of these two seemingly stale styles works somehow in The Other Guys, even if it’s not a total revitalization for either party. Detective Allen Gamble borrows a bit more from the Ron Burgundy character profile that made Ferrell a household name in 2004 only much more modest. Both rely on the childlike innocence or unawareness that Ferrell handles best. Pairing him with a more Type A personality in Wahlberg was also a wise move. He makes Ferrell’s humor come off better than John C. Reilly of the recent McKay/Ferrell films. Short but sweet supporting characters help them out too. The Other Guys definitely starts out stronger than it finishes. The biggest laughs are at the beginning and fade at the end as happens all too often in comedies that worry too much about resolving an uninteresting plot at the end of the film. It’s far from a Ferrell/McKay renaissance and it certainly won’t leave you clamoring for more twists on the buddy cop comedy, but the two sides find a chemistry together that however brief, refreshes in a year light on good laughs.” Rating: 7/10
Kieran thought: “Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have been interlinked since their days on Saturday Night Live and now dramatic actors the likes of Mark Walhberg and Samuel L. Jackson have joined their antics. With their new entry they take on the cop buddy comedy with this parody and to mixed results. There is plenty of humor, some from clever lines, but most comes from some very funny edgy moments involving sex, violence and race, like the sex-addict tramps. But because the film is a PG-13 it is not as risqué as it should have been (but what do you except from a film with a $100 million budget?). If you are not a fan of Ferrell’s style of comedy you are not going to be won over, but Walhberg, Jackson, Dwayne Johnson and Steve Coogan also gave strong performances. The film is too long and there are a few too many sub-plots that do not have enough of a comic payoff. I did laugh and enjoy many elements of The Other Guys (like the tramps and the school visit) and Samuel L. Jackson and Dwanye Johnson deserve a spin-off. However, Hot Fuzz is still my favorite buddy cop parody.” Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.3/10