The Other Guys (2010) dir Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Eva Mendes, Dwaybe Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson
By Alan Bacchus
If Step Brothers was the most ridiculous mainstream comedy to be made in the last 10 years (and it IS), then The Other Guys, Adam McKay’s next feature film is certainly the most ridiculous action comedy in a long time.
The fact is, this latest film from the Funny or Die team is a subversive, funny but also frustrating experience. The story of The Other Guys is negligiable – a turnkey cop flick about two pencil pushing policemen who get to go in the field for once and take down a nefarious group of white collar criminals in New York.
Considering how much money is spent on these Adam McKay films, we owe the studio some credit for the fact that these movies appear to be made on the fly without much of a script. While most films, even comedies, start with a script, these films succeed in the ability of its stars Ferrell, Wahlberg and their myriad of talented supporting actors to let loose and free associate comedy in front of their million dollar cameras, lenses, lights and crew.
This is why the special features on these movies are as important as what actually made it to the screen. I couldn’t wait to get to the ‘line-o-rama’ featurette which accompanies all these types of film, including the Judd Apatow produced ones as well. It doesn't disappoint.
All things considered The Other Guys isn’t really that good. Does it even qualify as a movie? Do we care what happens our two heroes in the end? As I write this, I can’t even remember how it ends. Will Ferrell’s character has so very little grounding in either a real world context, or even a Hollywood reality.
Will Ferrell’s captain Gene Mauch starts off as an indentifiable accounting geek who prefers the safety of his desk. His awe and fear of the action cops in his precinct such as the supercops played by Samuel Jackson and Dwayne Johnson is endearing and makes a terrific starting point for a dramatic character. It doesn’t long for this arc to go askew once his backstory is revealed. However ridiculous, Ferrell keeps a straight face in telling us how he befriended a female student on campus at university, ‘helped’ her get dates and acting as a go-between her and the men in exchange for money. ‘You mean you were a pimp?”, says Wahlberg. From there the joke goes off, over the top, into full fledged velvet suit, gold tooth wearing pimping. At this point most of the character established in the opening is lost in favour of this outrageous and extreme characterization.
However inconsistent, it’s all in aid of a good laugh. And few other comedy teams go for it more then McKay and Ferrell. However boring the actual narrative story, we’re constantly on the edge of our seat for the next comic set piece. My favourite might just be Will Ferrell’s freakout at Steve Coogan’s office where he plays bad cop, bad cop instead of good cop, bad cop. Or the wicked funny montage featuring Ferrell and Wahlberg succombing to Coogan’s bribery in the form of Jersey Boys tickets, courtside Knicks seats, even the cucumber water served in the office.
Also, I have to say thank you Adam McKay for casting Michael Keaton, who is sorely neglected and underused in Hollywood these days (Tim Burton, please throw him a bone too).
“The Other Guys” is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment