Derek Deskins’s review:
Few films this summer have made me want to rush to the theaters. Is it a sign of a struggling cinematic climate, a recession plagued studio system or just a weak summer? Without taking the time to figure out the specific reason let’s just agree that there isn’t much to get excited about this summer, especially in the comedy genre. Luckily, we live in a world where Will Ferrell and Adam McKay get to make films. The Other Guys stands as a sign that when it comes to ridiculous comedy, this duo continues to set the standard.
Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson) are the definition of action hero cops. Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) are not. Gamble is a forensic accountant with no aspirations to leave his desk. His partner, Hoitz, having been shackled to his desk after an incident that involved a discharged weapon and a New York Yankee cannot wait to get back in the field. So, when there is an opening for the new hotshot cops, Hoitz jumps at the opportunity. As the two attempt to prove that they are more than just desk jockeys, they stumble upon quite the case that goes deeper than they could have imagined.
On the surface, The Other Guys is just another buddy cop action comedy, but labeling it as such does the film a great disservice. First and foremost, this film is a comedy. Yes, it involves police and technically the story follows the closing of one specific case, but really all of these factors are afterthoughts to the absolute hilarity of the film.
First, let’s get the film’s missteps out of the way. The acting isn’t always the best, and I’m looking at you Mark Wahlberg. Some people may say that I’m expecting too much and that this is just Marky Mark and we should be happy that he is able to survive without the Funky Bunch, but I say nay. I have witnessed Mr. Wahlberg put his best foot forward in the acting realm. I only have to go back to The Departed where he knocked it out of the park and got a well-deserved Academy Award nomination to see just how good he can be. While his acting is much better than it was in The Happening (although I don’t think anything could be worse than that) it often seemed like he wasn’t trying. The story is a bit unoriginal and formulaic. The credits, which some may not consider part of the film, takes an odd political turn. While the animation is all right and the information is interesting, the material seems out of place and left me confused when I would have rather left smiling. The only other caveat I would have for this film is that it is very much a Ferrell/McKay film. This is the team that brought us Anchorman and Step Brothers and this film is in that same vein. If you don’t like their style of comedy, you probably won’t be a huge fan of The Other Guys.
Moving on to the good stuff. The cast is strong. Ferrell hits it out of the park. He manages to balance moments of insanity with the ability to also act as a straight man. I don’t know that there is another actor that can create a character that is able to bounce across this line as well as Ferrell. Dwayne Johnson (it’s tough not to say “The Rock”) and Samuel L. Jackson play characters that we’ve seen before, but don’t fail to delight. Then there is Eva Mendes. Obviously, she is all types of beautiful, but the girl has got some comedy chops. I loved the pairing of her and Ferrell and I never doubted that her character had all sorts of love for Ferrell’s creating a relationship that is simultaneously sweet and crazy. While the cast is able to elicit huge laughs, without a great script they would have nothing. The script seems to be written to make sure that nearly every line will get some kind of laugh, be it a chuckle or a chortle. The film demands at least a second viewing since I was laughing so hard that I’m sure I missed some jokes.
As I’ve said before, The Other Guys is first and foremost a comedy, but it holds its own when it comes to action. At first I was surprised how well put together all of the action set pieces were. After all, this is Adam McKay not Michael Bay. It was only after I sat and thought about it that I realized that McKay has been building to an all out action film. There was the multiple news station brawl in Anchorman, then the NASCAR crash in Talladega Nights, and most recently the end credit schoolyard smack down in Step Brothers. After this mini retrospective, I realized that I shouldn’t be surprised that the guy handles explosions impressively since he’s been eyeing it for so long. In this comedy, the well-choreographed and entertaining action is a sweet bonus treat.
The summer comedy is back. With The Other Guys Ferrell and McKay show how to make a funny film. The story is far from original and occasionally formulaic, but this doesn’t stop the film from being all kinds of entertaining. The script is so well written that any cast would be able to get some laughs from it and it is the audience’s good fortune that such funny lines get to be delivered by this cast. Although Wahlberg’s acting is a bit wooden, he works well with Ferrell. Eva Mendes, as Ferrell’s wife, is surprising in just how well she works in this comedy. Even the narration is great, delivered with the steely coolness that is Ice-T. On top of being a laugh riot, McKay is able to put together some great action scenes, allowing the film to stay true to its buddy cop roots. Despite a confusing and oddly political end sequence, the film will make you laugh. It may be too early to call it, but I’m going to anyway, The Other Guys is the funniest film of this summer.