Terry Holtz (Mark Wahlberg) and Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) are not Top Cops. That goes to the super-cop celebs P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson). Highsmith and Danson get all the big cases and all the glory that comes along with it. When Highsmith and Danson are no longer able to perform their duties (in an amazaingly funny open scene), the much-maligned Holtz sees it as an opportunity for him and his paperwork-loving partner Gamble to fill their shoes. That won’t be easy with Holtz being the joke around the department; he’s known as the “Yankee Clipper” for hilarious reasons I’ll let you discover on your own and with Gamble being content with keeping it safe working in the office.
I was thinking recently what a rare great comedy The Kids Are All Right is by the fact that its humor comes from straightforward honest actions and heartfelt investment. Will Ferrell’s latest comedy The Other Guys is as close to …Kids… as Megan Fox is to Madeline Albright in their sexy pin-up calendars (to which I have both). But you know what, both calendars tell you the days in the month and both comedies make you laugh, and in a comedy that means you win. The Other Guys delivers with the slapstick and over the top wackiness that we’ve come to know from the Adam McKay/Will Ferrell collaborations that tickle the funny bone throughout.
Ferrell and Wahlberg make an unlikely potent comedy duo, bouncing well off each other with their own styles. It’s so refreshing to see Ferrell not do another cocky-arrogant-balls to the wall character. What people may forget is that back in his SNL days, Ferrell played the straight man just as well as anybody, getting just as many laughs from a quiet character as the loud obnoxious ones. Ferrell’s Gamble certainly has outrageous tendencies, but he leaves it up to Wahlberg to be the driving force of the film. Wahlberg handles this well, screaming his way through his role as the angry wannabe hero who just screws things up the more he tries to make it right.
There’s a great piece of casting with Michael Keaton as the quiet police captain slash part time Bed Bath and Beyond manager. Word on the street is Keaton pissed off a lot of peeps over the years with his attitude and as a result didn’t work as much, but he comes through as strong as always with some of the best moments in this film- including a great ongoing joke of him quoting TLC lyrics.
Props to McKay for directing an original way to shoot a “night out at the bar” montage, that was both funny and cool.
No props for continuing to cast Rob Riggle in his films. Not to be a hater, but Riggle’s douche-bag butthead antagonists just come off as… well…douchey. The action in the film is high-quality, but this is a comedy/action movie, not an action/comedy. The action doesn’t excite like a Beverly Hills Cop or even a poorer version, Rush Hour, but serves to set up the next joke.
This would be one heck of a film if it weren’t for a half-assed satirical stab at a corrupt investment banking plot. David Ershon (Steven Coogan) owes thirty-two billion dollars on some poor investment choices and Holtz and Gamble are hot on the trail to punish the injustice. The script keeps throwing out more and more sub-plots and character developments, just trying to see which ones will stick and then run with that. You get laughs from a lot of different bits, but by the end when Ferrell’s Gamble says he still doesn’t know who the target is and Wahlberg’s Holtz replies “who cares”, well, I couldn’t agree more.
All in all, The Other Guys is a return to an actual very funny movie for Will Ferrell after his poor stretch of ill-advised sports films, and watching him and Wahlberg play out the cop clichés in such an entertaining way is great.
Take a Drink: for every TLC quote
Take a Drink: whenever an attractive woman hits on Allen Gamble
Down a Shot: whenever Gamble’s weapon is demoted.