The Other Guys (Review)
The Other Guys is the fourth collaboration between Will Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay, who together created the comic masterpiece Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), as well as other comedy gems Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) and Stepbrothers (2008). I have to say that I was impressed that the pair haven’t lost their touch, delivering yet another consistently funny and well-paced film that delivers several big laughs throughout. Mark Wahlberg co-stars as Ferrell’s partner in the police department, where they work as the “other guys” (i.e. the losers of the department) as opposed to the hero-cops played by the fantastic Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, who end up stealing the film’s single funniest moment. All I’m going to say is: Blaze of Glory.
The Other Guys works primarily because Wahlberg’s Terry Hoitz isn’t the traditional heroic lead meant to balance the quirky character-acting of Ferrell’s Allen Gamble. The truth is that Hoitz is every bit as crazy as Gamble in his own way (“I’m like a peacock, you gotta let me fly!”), which effectively separates The Other Guys from dozens of less successful or original buddy-cop parodies that fall back on a traditional good-cop/crazy-cop formula. It also helps that Ferrell is very much on his game with the character of Gamble, an analytical nerd who is extremely gullible and who somehow attracts gorgeous women without even trying. Together the two deliver some truly hilarious moments of laugh-out-loud comedy gold, working well off each other’s quirks without losing sight of their characters.
McKay paces things very well, with at least one or two solid laughs in every scene. Things become somewhat outrageous at times, but this is to be expected from the wacky minds behind Anchorman, and thankfully the film never suffers or loses its creativity. It is also important to highlight Michael Keaton’s welcomed return to form as a comedian, playing the bizarre and hilarious Police Captain who moonlights as a Bed Bath and Beyond manager. Keaton displays a great deal of charisma and even steals a few of his scenes in what could be his funniest live-action role since Beetlejuice. Steve Coogan rounds out the cast as the central character of the film’s corruption plot, playing a role he’s quite accomplished at: the oblivious British millionaire.
If there’s one problem to be found with The Other Guys, it’s the lack of a really strong villain. Ray Stevenson’s Special Ops Roger Wesley comes to play the closest thing the film has to a villain, but ends up feeling like more of a henchman. The void left by this lack of true badguy only stands out when considering the fact that buddy-cop films usually contain a very strong, firmly established criminal mastermind, whereas Stevenson (though threatening) never quite reaches that point. The film is already operating somewhat outside of the traditional take on the buddy-cop parody anyways, so this ends up being more of a minor complaint than a dealbreaker, but it still would have been nice to see a more menacing adversary for Hoitz and Gamble.
All things considered, McKay and Ferrell have really knocked it out of the park again and created what could be their funniest film collaboration since Anchorman. The Other Guys is an exceptional comic gem that is fresh and fun, and sure to keep you laughing from start to finish.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The Other Guys (2010, USA, PG13: 107 min / Unrated: 116 min). Directed by: Adam McKay. Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Steve Coogan, Ray Stevenson, Michael Keaton, and Eva Mendes.