The Other Guys, the Latest Will Ferrell-Adam McKay Copout
After obligatory helicopter views of New Yorks skyline open Adam McKays The Other Guys, were introduced to Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson), a duo of headline-grabbing, unflappable supercops who keep the city exciting, if not safe, with law enforcement by the Michael Bay book.
The Other Guys arent them. This is the fourth feature collaboration between McKay and Will Ferrell, who make baggy improvisational comedies about utter boobs (Anchormans Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights Ricky Bobby) like Detectives Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). Gamble is an emasculated Prius owner transferred from forensic accounting who volunteers to do everyone elses paperwork so he can stay safely at his desk. Loose-cannon Hoitz seems to have been partnered with Gamble as punishmenthes been the departmental black sheep since a humiliating incident that earned him the nickname Yankee Clipper.
Laying out its premise, The Other Guys is loose and funny. Michael Keaton is welcome as the captain; the classic cop-opera scene of a chest-thumping station-house brawl becomes a quiet, six-inch-voices huddle at a solemn official event; and the fall from grace for the station idols is a giddy sight gag in an otherwise functionally shot movie.
The Other Guys
The Other Guys
Directed by Adam McKay
Opens August 6
Dont expect Wahlberg to bring his compact, cagey, and deadpan sergeant from The Departed as straight man to the Ferrellian psychoMcKays operating principle is that if one idiot is funny, two are hilarious. So Wahlberg is given to peevish, hot-headed ranting in a breathy singsong, while Ferrell, playing supersquare, still periodically lets loose to chase riffs until they collapse, as when Gamble whips one of Hoitzs bad metaphors into a fervid monologue about fish-versus-lion combat.
And for a while, the gears catch. Hoitz comes over to his partners house and is floored by his is-she-really-going-out-with-him gorgeous wife (Eva Mendes). Ferrells boorishness at the dinner table (he insistently notes his wifes plainness), Mendess domestic glow, and Wahlbergs hypnotized puppy love make a tickling trio of mutually oblivious reactions. One wishes for more of these well-set-up scenes later, as the leads are given little to do but trade off one-liners while treading the waters of an increasingly choppy plot.
Gamble and Hoitz catch the scent of something big during a routine pickup of a Wall Street hustler (Steve Coogan), busted after a speech at The Center for American Capitalism. Anyone who knows McKays wider body of work knows his political grievanceswith G.W. impersonator Ferrell, he bedeviled the Bush presidency on SNL, on Broadway, and onlinebut hes never really integrated them into his films beyond, say, the Red State turkey shoot of Talladega Nights. Taking white-collar criminals for villains, The Other Guys isnt laugh-killingly self-righteousthe Rage Against the Machine over the closing credits is pretty funny, actuallybut its timely, villain-cluttered conspiracy doesnt make for a very buoyant adventure story, either.
Following the clues, The Other Guys turns more hectic than antic, and somebody didnt pack enough comedy for this long tripthe punchlines in the movies second half are often callbacks to jokes you may not fondly remember from the first, until every gag is united with its mate. (Whatever script there was is credited to McKay and Chris Henchy, creators of the Funny or Die website with Ferrell.) If there were a computer program that automatically generated generic action scenes after you punch in participating actors namesand there may well be!the product would look like The Other Guys shoot-em-ups. Injections of zaniness (i.e., an enemy helicopter being pelted with golf balls; jokes about learning to drive from Grand Theft Auto) dont much lighten the impersonality.
Does providing a half-dozen solid laffs put The Other Guys ahead of this summers grade curve? Afraid so. But comic cops are as old as the Keystone PD, and you need something special to compete with the homemade ingenuity, skewed Brit perspective, and steady command of tone of recent memory Hot Fuzz, not to speak of beating The Naked Gun to the draw.
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