The Other Guys

No So Swell McKay

         
 

06 August 2010| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Sqaundered opportunity. The Other Guys is a two-man vehicle but one that has got to be more important to Mark Wahlberg than it is to Will Ferrell. For Wahlberg, he has never been the headliner in such a broad, swing low comedy. Ferrell has done ’em and done ’em plenty, and at a certain point you wonder if he cares whether or not audiences are sick of his same routines. Wahlberg has to compress that trademark forehead-as-hot-iron intensity, except this time he’s doing it in a comedy. Ferrell is the squirrely by-the-books cop professional who prefers accounting to crime scene work, but he has the inner ham rage to unload, the kind we’ve seen a dozen times from him (egomania rage in “Step Brothers,” his ultimate apogee).

Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson fire up the works. They are introduced during one of those hyper-explosive car chases that’s so over-the-top that it is a parody of parodies, and surely it’s funny, but it might have been even funnier if the camerawork wasn’t so shoddy. After stopping crime, the bad boy duo get their limelight speech at City Hall. Then we get introduced to Wahlberg resurrecting his “The Departed” fever, and Ferrell doing his dull guy routine behind the desk who’s on the verge of erupting out of his repression bubble. All this works, actually. Especially because we got a mismatched buddy cop movie where they are mismatched to the funny or die extreme.

Of course Wahlberg’s character Detective Terry Hoitz doesn’t want to be saddled with Ferrell’s Detective Allen Gamble. Terry wants to be a cop like the ones he saw on TV growing up. One mistake on duty has now disgraced Terry, for it involved crippling Derek Jeter of the Yankees in the tunnel on the way out to the dugout. Allen makes a mistake before our eyes, performing a desk pop (didn’t mom say don’t discharge your weapon at home)! But at home, Allen has an outrageously gorgeous wife played by none other than Eva Mendes (“Hitch”), who is slavering to his needs but oh so underappreciated. One more highlight: Michael Keaton, as Captain Gene of police headquarters, gets to discharge his comedic gifts.

Beyond that, the second half of the movie becomes an entirely different kind of movie, a different kind of comedy and a different kind of thriller. The thriller stuff is less than thrilling, more incompetent if anything, making “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” look like a model of classical filmmaking by comparison. The funny stuff is overrun by a complicated, long-winded, and poorly told plot centering on white collar crime with Steve Coogan as the outfit, his character rich enough to compete with the fortunes of Trump Plaza.

Director Adam McKay (“Step Brothers”) who has no idea how to streamline a plot, and you can tell where the lack of rewrites in his script (co-written by Chris Henchy) never took place, more to boot, it’s possible these guys don’t believe in story rewrites. McKay sends his two cops hopping around hopelessly in one scene to the next, and there is a boardroom shoot-out where, even in Mexican standoff proximity, no one gets hurt. It also has the sh**iest cinematography of the year from a major Hollywood movie studio.

It is not Wahlberg who goes off the deep end, for it is Ferrell once again reprising the narcissistic personality disorder as the foundation of his character and once again going off the deep end. But as Ferrell goes into a self-centered mode that dominates screen attention, it offsets any chance for Wahlberg to shine. Yet as substandard as “The Other Guys” is it won’t kill him. Wahlberg has been funny within his dramatic roles like “Boogie Nights” and “Three Kings,” and it’s still not impossible to conceive that he will get another shot at a full-blown comedy again sometime.

107 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

ACTION COMEDY / SHOTS AND BANGS / LATE NIGHT YUKS

Film Cousins: “48 Hours” (1982); “Rush Hour” (1998); “Hot Fuzz” (2007); “Step Brothers” (2008).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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