Summer 2010 has been very light on really good comedies, so it was a pleasure to finally see a film that delivers enough consistent laughs to earn a high recommendation. Leave it to Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay to be the duo, yet again, that delivers the goods. Their other collaborations Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers were all certified hits and considered to be among the top comedies of the past 10 years. So, how does The Other Guys compare to those films? Let’s break it down.
The highlight of this movie is Will Ferrell. His character, Allen Gamble, is the essential element that the film revolves around. Gamble is happy being a desk cop and is very resistant to becoming part of the action. What I liked about the character was that it would have been easy for the writers to leave this character as just ‘wanting’ to be a desk cop because that’s what he enjoys doing. However, we get a back story for Gamble (and a great one at that – ‘college pimp’) that only adds more humor to this already hysterical man. This desk cop and former college pimp has a knack for grabbing the attention of beautiful women, all the while being oblivious to this fact. It drives his partner crazy because he just can’t understand how Gamble can be such a ladies man. As the film goes on, we get a chance to see the ‘old’ Allen Gamble (or ‘Gator’, as they used to call him in college), and it’s a nice change of pace for the character. Like I said, the plot could have called for just the monotone desk cop throughout, but it takes a chance by showing his dark side - and it was a risk worth taking. Ferrell is so good at elevating the material that is given to him. Even though a lot of people may be growing tired of his shtick, or perhaps are just not a fan of his work, but in my opinion he truly is a great comic actor.
Will has always been paired up with other great actors that add something different to his films, and in some cases show something different from them that we have yet to see. The best case of this has to be John C. Reilly. I would have never imagined John would have been as great at comedy as he turned out to be. In The Other Guys, the actor who gets his chance to show some comedic flare is Mark Wahlberg, who portrays Terry Hoitz. Terry is another desk cop who has a desire to get back out into the action, although he is the laughing stock of the precinct. He made a gigantic mistake early on in his career that cost him his chance at becoming a reputable cop. He shoots someone that is very dear to the people of New York – Derek Jeter (there is a great Alex Rodriguez statement made as well). Mark does a really good job with the role, as he goes back and forth with anger and sensitivity quite well throughout. He has his own personal issues, and while they are not as much a part of the plot as Allen’s, they do provide a nice diversion for another character that could have had been written with one main trait. Wahlberg doesn’t have the comedic timing of John C. Reilly, and he never really gets close to matching his natural talent for it, but a decent performance is given nonetheless – and he does have some moments that are pure hilarity, especially his facial expressions. It honestly takes Terry forever to believe that Sheila (Eva Mendes) is Allen’s wife. Wahlberg manages to hold his own against Ferrell, and in a few scenes he actually outdoes the veteran comedian.
As for the supporting players, some were good - some were just underused. Eva is basically there just to be more comic material for Will’s character. Her part is small, but she is gorgeous and because of this it does allow for more humorous conversation between Allen and Terry. Michael Keaton seems to be having a good time as Captain Gene. I always liked Keaton as an actor, and it’s good to see him in a film like this. Even though his part is also underwritten and some of his lines fall flat, there are some good, funny moments between him and Ferrell. I thought the TLC references were great…and the fact that he works at Bed, Bath and Beyond to earn extra money to put his bisexual son through college is genius. He is the Captain. Captains don’t work second jobs, especially at BB&B. Ice-T narrates certain parts of the film, and even though it’s not much use of him, his voice does suit the scenes it was used in.
Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson are perfectly cast as Christopher Danson and P.K. Highsmith, respectively, the hero cops that get all of the attention. The films initial action sequence is great and establishes them as being the cops who can pretty much survive anything. They have some great lines and perhaps one of the funniest death scenes I’ve ever seen. I literally had tears in my eyes. This particular scene is well shot and the theater went into an uproar when it ended. Possibly the funniest scene in the film. On the other hand, the cops trying to be the new city ‘heroes’, Martin (Rob Riggle) and Fosse (Damon Wayans, Jr.), are not that well written. I wish the script called for them to do a bit more and that their lines would have been more clever. Riggle (who is best known as Randy ‘Bam’ from Step Brothers) has the potential to be very funny, given the right material. Steve Coogan (Hamlet 2 and Percy Jackson) plays the bad guy, David Ershon who is trying to steal money from the NYC police pension fund to pay back a whole gang of people he owes money to due to bad investments. Coogan is decent in the role. I’ve enjoyed his work so far in other films, but his character here is underwhelming. It’s really not Steve’s fault, because the film does center around Ferrell and Wahlberg and their quest to uncover what’s really behind the jewel heist that killed Danson and Highsmith. David Ershon’s character just needed to be there – the film needed a bad guy and he was sufficient enough.
When all is said and done, The Other Guys is not nearly as memorable as Anchorman or Step Brothers. It reminded me more of Talladega Nights. There are some truly funny moments in this action comedy and the majority of them take place when Ferrell and Wahlberg are on the screen at the same time. The banter back and forth between the two of them is fun to watch, even if it is not as memorable as some of Ferrell’s other films. The film plays out like a parody of most cop themed action films and a great parody it is. From the opening sequence, the realization that this film is not going to take itself too seriously sets in. That is a good thing. I like to review comedies a bit different than other films. Comedies are not made to be over analyzed by critics. They are made to make you laugh. If a film succeeds in making you laugh for the majority of the two hours you have spent watching it, then it has accomplished it’s goal. The Other Guys is the funniest film of 2010. Get Him to the Greek is a close second. I am eagerly awaiting the next project between Ferrell and director Adam McKay. They are on a roll and I hope they can keep coming up with new ways to make audiences laugh.
Check out my Top 10 Lists for Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg to see where this film ranks!!