Film Review with Robert Mann – The Other Guys



The Other Guys ****

Will Ferrell is, in this critic’s opinion, one of the funniest men in America. When it comes to choosing projects to star in, however, he often doesn’t pick the ones that show this the best, his films being very hit and miss in terms of both quality and popularity, ones like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby setting the box office alight (in the states at least – here in the UK Will Ferrell is something of a non factor) and winning rave reviews while others like Land of the Lost are commercial failures and critical duds








(this critic seems to be one of the very few who actually liked that film). The Will Ferrell starring vehicles that tend to receive the most positive reviews are those that see him team up with director Adam McKay, their previous collaborations including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the aforementioned Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of any of these films, considering them to be good but hardly the amazing comedies that many make them out to be. Even I, however, had great anticipation for Ferrell and McKay’s latest effort ahead of its release – a spoof (the good kind not the atrociously awful Disaster Movie kind) of Hollywood buddy cop action movies entitled The Other Guys – and can honestly that the film does live up to the hype, perhaps being one of Will Ferrell’s funniest films yet.

Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and Highsmith (Samuel L Jackson) are a pair of intrepid cops who are living the law-enforcement dream. The criminals fear them, while their colleagues and the community revere them. They’re the heroes of the New York Police Department – achingly cool from top to toe, with women and criminals alike falling at their feet. Then there are detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) – they’re ‘the other guys’, the lowly desk jockeys that just get in the way of glory boys like Danson and Highsmith. But when a chase goes wrong claiming the lives of New York’s top cops, there is a new opening for the position of the heroes within the Police Department. For Hoitz it is the perfect opportunity to get away from his desk and see some action but his partner Gamble is only interested in doing paperwork and staying away from trouble. When a fairly innocuous-looking case turns up, it’s left to Gamble and Hoitz to take the reins. Investigating the rich and powerful David Ershon (Steve Coogan) against the orders of their superior Captain Gene Mauch (Michael Keaton), they discover what first appears to be nothing but begins to unravel and reveals the city’s biggest crime yet. But do these guys have what it takes to bring in the bad guys?

Unlike many spoofs that make fun of the very films that they are parodying, The Other Guys is a film that pays respectful homage to its inspirations and one that can certainly be classed as an equal alongside the likes of Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs., Starsky & Hutch and Hot Fuzz (itself a spoof/homage of the buddy cop movie), in fact being less a spoof of and more a loving homage to the subgenre. It is this respectfulness that sets the film apart from other similar movies – in particular this year’s Cop Out – with Adam McKay bringing a degree of smartness to a film that is inherently silly in many ways and playing heavily on the excesses that often feature in Hollywood action movies – in particular the manner in which the heroes always walk away from explosions unscathed, something that doesn’t happen in one of this film’s funniest scenes – but doing so in a way that seems witty and clever rather than cheap and crude as is the case in many recent spoof movies. McKay, who both writes and directs, brings on the laughs in everything from the dialogue to the action sequences with random improvised banter between characters, such as an argument about who would win in a fight between a lion and a tuna, proving to be absolutely hilarious, the witty insults they throw at each other being sublime, funny twists on classic cop movie staples, such as good cop-bad cop being replaced by bad cop-bad cop due to a misunderstanding, featuring frequently and the well executed action sequences, in particular the opening chase sequence through the streets of New York, being as funny as they are thrilling. In spite of the occasional conversation that may seem a tad gross, McKay has perhaps made his funniest movie yet here. This might all be for nowt, however, if it weren’t for the comedy prowess of the leads. Will Ferrell is on top form as always, delivering one laugh out loud moment after another – little surprise there – but the real revelation is Mark Wahlberg who, with this and his brief role in this year’s Date Night, has found a niche for himself as a comedy star and effortlessly keeps up with Ferrell in bringing on the funny moments. As with any buddy cop movie what really makes the pairing work, however, is the fact that their characters are completely mismatched. In the grand tradition of buddy cops and following in the footsteps of Murtaugh and Riggs, Cates and Hammond, Starsky and Hutch, and Angel and Butterman, the partnership of Gamble and Hoitz is one that couldn’t seem more mismatched, Gamble being a cop who lives for paperwork and who just wants to stay out of the way of the action while Hoitz wants nothing more than to be right in the midst of the action and come face to face with a bit of danger. The two characters couldn’t be more different and the way they played by Ferrell and Wahlberg makes for a pairing that delivers a very high hit rate of laughs while also managing to pull on the heartstrings occasionally as each of the character’s darker sides emerge thanks to some strong character development and revealing flashbacks that help to build them as characters and make them characters who aren’t just funny but also sympathetic, thus allowing us to care about them as well as laugh at their antics. It isn’t just Ferrell and Wahlberg who deliver funny performances either with Michael Keaton getting a fair share of laughs as the Captain who also works a second job at Bed Bath and Beyond and who repeatedly references TLC, Steve Coogan being very funny as the sort of villain whose tactic of dealing with unwanted interference from cops is a bizarrely successful – and very funny – method of bribery and Eva Mendes, who amuses as the most unlikely of romantic interests for Gamble. A number of other recognisable performers are present among the cast as well with Rob Riggle and Damon Wayans Jr. playing rival cops to Gamble and Hoitz but the show is really stolen by the duo of Dwayne Johnson (who it is great to see back in an action role after being involved a few too many kiddie flicks) and Samuel L. Jackson, whose roles may be just prolonged cameos but nonetheless prove to be truly hilarious and getting the film off to a very funny start even before Ferrell and Wahlberg appear on the scene. All in all, The Other Guys is a truly hilarious action comedy that delivers both laughs and thrills in plentiful supply, making for a perfect piece of popcorn entertainment and easily making up for any misses that Ferrell may have had in recent years. Don’t see any of the other movies that are on release right now, see this one instead.



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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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