Plot: Two mismatched, desk-bound cops (Will Ferrell & Mark Wahlberg) are thrown together in classic buddy cop fashion, when they uncover a multi-billion dollar ponzi scheme run by a shady financial wizard (Steve Coogan).
Review: I knew I was in good hands once THE OTHER GUYS opened up with some hip-hop narration by none-other than Ice-T. OK, I thought to myself- obviously this wasn’t going to be another COP OUT, and sure enough, THE OTHER GUYS succeeds all the ways that film failed.
All credit is obviously due to the fact that this reunites director Adam McKay, and star Will Ferrell. So far (in my book anyways), these guys are four for four, with THE OTHER GUYS being more or less on par with their previous collaborations, ANCHORMAN, TALLADEGA NIGHTS, and STEP-BROTHERS. Now, I’m aware that some of those movies, particularly STEP-BROTHERS, are an acquired taste. Something tells me McKay, and Ferrell were conscious of that fact, as THE OTHER GUYS is remarkably coherent compared to their other films.
This actually has a fairly twisty plot, involving a sadly relevant ponzi scheme, that was an interesting departure from the usual drug-kingpin baddie present in most other buddy cop movies. The scheme here is actually fairly interesting, and obviously McKay and co., were aware of that as they included a lengthy, straight-faced explanation of ponzi schemes over the end credits.
However, the question isn’t really whether or not THE OTHER GUYS made for a good cop movie or not- but rather is it funny? Of course, the answer is hell yes. While on his own Ferrell is usually hit or miss, he always manages to knock it out of the park when paired with McKay, and his (sometimes) mild-manned accountant cop, Allen Gamble, is another great comedic creation like Ricky Bobby, or Ron Burgundy.
There are a couple of really funny twists on the usual Ferrell persona, as here, he’s actually playing a really smart guy as opposed to his normally clueless characters. That said, Ferrell still gets to be Ferrell, especially once his suppressed pimp personality, Gator (don’t ask), hits the scene. There’s also a funny device where Ferrell’s supposed to be this irresistible ladies man that all the sexy female characters (including Natalie Zea) throw themselves at. Heck, he’s even married to a surprisingly funny Eva Mendes (who even gets to croon the theme song, ‘Pimps Don’t Cry’)- who he’s managed to delude himself into thinking is really a frumpy plain Jane- much to Walhberg’s astonishment.
Speaking of Wahlberg- who knew this guy had such great comedic chops? He’s hilarious as the Riggs half of the buddy cop duo, and he gets many of the film’s biggest laughs. Particularly funny is a scene where he dementedly interrupts his ex-girlfriend’s ballet practice in an attempt to win her back. At times, it almost seems like Wahlberg’s recapturing Dirk Diggler playing Brock Landers in BOOGIE NIGHTS, and he’s damn hilarious. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of Wahlberg in comedies after this, and it helps that he’s obviously not above taking the piss out of his action roles, or even his own macho image.
THE OTHER GUYS also has a great supporting cast, including the one-and-only Michael Keaton, who does a great job sending up the pissed-off captain, with him having a few really funny scenes opposite Ferrell. Keaton was THE MAN in eighties comedies (NIGHT SHIFT, GUNG HO, JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY, THE DREAM TEAM), and it’s nice to see him being funny again after a long period off-screen. We also get a bunch of other comedy pros, including Steve Coogan as the slimy villain, Ferrell/McKay vet Rob Riggle, and Damon Waynes Jr.,who’s the spitting image of his father.
Of course, special mention has to be made of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Samuel L. Jackson, as the action hero cops idolized by Ferrell, and the rest of the department. Their opening action scene is a hoot, including some classic Sam Jackson knowingly cheesy one-liners. The only thing missing was him saying “Motherfucker”- but alas, this is PG-13, so we;ll have to wait for the inevitable unrated cut. Both Jackson, and Johnson seem to be having a blast making fun of themselves, and the scene that ultimately takes them out of the action is classic McKay.
My only problem with THE OTHER GUYS is that, at close to two hours, it’s a shade long. It kinda loses it’s momentum in the last half hour or so, especially once the film gets a little carried away with staging huge action set pieces- which are not really what the film needed at this point. However, that’s a minor issue, and THE OTHER GUYS is most definitely a fun comedy worth seeing. Heck, even if you’re not a McKay/Ferrell fan (but why wouldn’t you be?), you still might like it, as it’s more accessible than their recent work. The question now is whether or not it holds up to repeat DVD viewings as well as their other films, but that’s to be answered another day…