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:: The Other Guys

The latest film from writer-director Adam McKay sees him once again teaming up with comedian-of-the-moment Will Ferrell in an amusing take on the buddy cop film. Ferrell plays Allen Gamble – a glasses-wearing, Prius-driving detective who actually takes delight in doing the paper work every other cop loathes. He is partnered with the angry, would-be tough-guy Terry Hoitz, played by Mark Wahlberg. These are ‘the other guys.’ After the city’s two hot shot cops (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) die in baffling circumstances, the city of New York looks for two new heroes. From within the force, every cop seems eager to step up. Hoitz especially, who is desperate to break free and spread his feathers like the ‘peacock’ he is, but Gamble, cozy in his managerial utopia, takes more convincing. Yet when a seemingly straight forward case concerning scaffolding permits turns into billion dollar investment fraud, the other guys may have no choice but to rise to the occasion.

As with all McKay-Ferrell films, The Other Guys offers another hilarious parody of the role machoism plays within our society and action cinema in particular. Hoitz having to constantly fight off Gamble’s homo-erotic expressions of friendship and the fact that Gamble’s gun is replaced with a wooden one, and later simply a rape whistle, are only a couple of the highlights. It was also refreshing to see Wahlberg in a comedic role and he complemented Ferrell nicely, never competing with Ferrell’s brand of humour, rather playing off him or merely contradicting his own screen-reputation as a tough-guy. In particular, Wahlberg’s character seemed to spoof his tough-talking, enraged cop from Scorsese’s The Departed. But it is Ferrell who is in his comedic element. His dialogue often plays out as a ridiculous commentary on life, or perhaps a therapeutic commentary as an attempt to deal with the absurdities of human emotions, actions and social values. But analysis aside, Ferrell’s goofy persona is simply hilarious. Exaggerated, over-the-top, blatant and unashamedly stupid, The Other Guys has everything the contemporary Hollywood comedy should have in spades.

It is a funny film, but while most, if not all, of Ferrell and Wahlberg’s gags hit home, the supporting cast scored a few more misses. Steve Coogan, playing the hapless investor Ershon, fell short in reaching his comic potential on display in Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People where he revels in the more British script. Perhaps it is the obvious, McKay-Ferrell humour that alienates Coogan’s potential, but some of his lines don’t gel with the comic tone of the movie that, to a degree, overshadows him. The character suited Coogan, but the character did not suit the film. Easier to criticise is the brutish Rob Riggle, who I’ve never found funny, and the Australian Ray Stevenson, who, while only having a few comic lines, is clearly ill-suited for comedy. However saying that, the Ferrell-Wahlberg partnership is more than sufficient as was Michael Keaton who plays the police captain working a second job in a home-wears store, continually referencing TLC lyrics without realizing it. Eva Mendes, as Ferrell’s overtly sexual ‘plain’ wife, also delivers in her supporting role.

Interestingly, it is Patrick Crowley, producer of the Bourne trilogy, that oversees the action scenes. The action itself is often quite tense, with sporadic detours into lunacy, with some exciting car chases amongst the standouts.

For fans of the McKay-Ferrell production line, i.e. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers, this is a must. For the rest, it is a fun take on the buddy cop film and machoism, delivered in a tone that is both ridiculous and exaggerated yet somehow friendly and, dare I say, humbling. It’s a film that appreciates the little guy, the neglected desk clerks too mundane for the spotlight, with the sentimental message that, we are all heroes.