Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ferrell and Wahlberg are "The Other Guys" you want to see this summer


The Other Guys (2010) 
107 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: B 

Kevin Smith tried his hand at spoofing the buddy-cop genre in "Cop Out," but what a failure. Now here we go again with "The Other Guys," which Will Ferrell's right-hand man Adam McKay ("Anchorman," "Step Brothers") writes and directs. And there are a lot of laughs that bubble to the top with goofy glee. Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are NYPD desk jockeys Allen and Terry, the complete opposites of a bad-guy-chasing pair of superstar cops played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, who are obviously having tons of fun toying with their overblown macho-hero personas. (Jackson gets lots of self-parodic wisecracks during his big action sequences.) Allen is a buttoned-up accountant who has no problem doing all the paperwork for his fellow officers; Terry is the tough loose-cannon not thrilled to be partnered with Allen after accidentally shooting and wounding Yankees star Derek Jeter. Then Terry coaxes Allen to do some real police work, like going after a shady investment banker (Steve Coogan) involved in some big, bad, illegal dealings. Everyone thinks the two cops are sticking their noses where they don't have to be stuck, but “the other guys” are convinced otherwise. 

What makes "The Other Guys" work is the inspired pairing of Ferrell and Wahlberg. They got the bumbling, mismatched cop bits down and share terrificially funny banter together. Ferrell is playing more than just another moron again, with deadpan really suiting him, and Wahlberg makes a good foil as the edgy straight man. It helps that many of the gags are actually inspired as well. There's a brawl at a funeral operating in whispers out of respect. Ferrell's rhetorical tuna-lion metaphor in his verbal sparring is hilarious. And the sequence of “the other guys” running Allen's red Toyota Prius straight into a crime scene of cocaine and dead bodies will get you laughing out loud. McKay gets the tone right: he plays the action with a straight face but makes the dialogue very self-aware, with Chris Henchy's co-writing two cents. 

Although McKay doesn't have much finesse behind the camera, he does have a clever idea: we get a tracking shot of still shots of their night-before shenanigans. Michael Keaton also is very funny and steals all of his scenes as their police captain who moonlights at “Bed, Bath, and Beyond” to pay for his bisexual kid's college and constantly uses TLC-song platitudes without knowing. We can't forget Eva Mendes, who shows some surprising comedy chops as Allen's lady, and the running joke with her works every time. There are also some very amusing celeb cameos (one including "Cop Out" co-star Tracy Morgan). 

There are problems with "The Other Guys," of course. It's slightly better than most sloppy comedies, considering the high laugh ratio, but the movie doesn't really know when to throw in the towel, thinking we care about all the plot, and it has an unnecessary voice-over by Ice T. Oh, and what is Anne Heche doing here in an unbilled role as Coogan's co-conspirator? Very strange, indeed. Although it may've benefited from more tightening, "The Other Guys" knows when to end with a punchline and it's funny enough as a whole. And funny is hard to come by lately. 

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