Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Other Guys

Film: The Other Guys (2010)
Dir: Adam McKay
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

Despite the fact that Adam McKay has not made a solid comedy feature since Anchorman, his movies keep me coming back. Why? Perhaps it's the actors with which he surrounds himself, or perhaps I keep hoping he will strike gold again. Perhaps I am just a brainless theater drone like many other Americans. Either way, his latest effort sucked me in again, but this one is better than I expected. It is still marred by the occasional awkward or painfully unfunny moment, but it does have some good laughs and fun, tongue-in-cheek action.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play police detectives who are the laughing stock of their precinct. Terry (Wahlberg) yearns to repair his reputation by getting out in the field, while his partner Allen (Ferrell) prefers to hide behind his desk and crunch numbers. As the titular "other guys", they are constantly out-shadowed by a pair of hot-shots hero cops (played perfectly by Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson). That is until they stumble upon a suspicious case involving a high-profile robbery, a shady capitalist (Steve Coogan), and the NYPD itself.

The Other Guys steps up the maturity level from McKay's previous films. There is less randomness and more of a story here. McKay is going for a Lethal Weapon-esque buddy cop film. Not only is it infused with big-budget action but also socioeconomic commentary. McKay takes on corporate bailouts and other bad business practices, while simultaneously sticking up for police officers. This becomes overwhelmingly obvious during the end credit sequence. Until that point, the commentary is pretty subtle and does not detract from the humor.

So how funny is it? Not as funny as you've probably been hearing, but it does have some solid laughs. Ferrell's usual randomness rears its ugly head, and Wahlberg is not as hilariously angry as he could/should be (blame the PG-13 rating, perhaps?). Still, some greatness comes through, including a running gag about Allen's college years. Not surprisingly, the supporting characters steal the movie, among them being Michael Keaton, Bobby Cannavale, Rob Riggle, and Ray Stevenson. But perhaps the most memorable are the relatively unknown Natalie Zea and Brett Gelman, who play a married couple, and give us one of the film's funniest scenes.

So how is the action? Well, it's silly, but that is the idea. The opening sequence is delightfully over-the-top. The action sequences are also supported by a fun soundtrack, which includes such eclectic choices as Wyclef Jean, The White Stripes, Rage Against the Machine, Donovan, TLC, Goldfrapp, and Phil Collins. Yep.

To fanboys/girls like myself, McKay's foray into action/comedy is of special importance since the powers-that-be have handed him the reins to the film adaptation of Garth Ennis' The Boys. I believe The Other Guys is a step in the right direction, and should settle a few fanboy doubts. McKay is still not the ideal choice for that film, but now there is at least some hope he can pull it off.


Sean said...

Nice review. I think I liked it a little more than you (I would give it four stars), but you summed it up very well.

This movie did kill some of my worries about McKay directing The Boys, but like I was telling DJ yesterday, I still have no confidence in the writers or the studio. Needless to say, if it fails, I don't think it will be because of McKay though. He did kind of show me he has the range to handle of movie like that.

Rebirth of the Cool said...

I haven't seen The Other Guys yet(keyword being "yet"), but I'm gonna say Step Brothers is right up there with Anchorman, IMHO. The dynamics between the cast(especially Adam Scott) is comedic gold.

That said, I've read a lot of positive things about The Other Guys, so I'm definitely going to check it out this week.

Heather said...

Personally, I didn't like Step Brothers at all. I love Adam Scott generally but I barely remember him in it. In fact, the only part of Step Brothers I found funny was in the trailer - and they cut it for the actual film (when Ferrell is burying Reilly and says, "They'll NEVER find you!")

Atroxion said...

Looking forward to this one. I'm very curious how the team-up between Wahlberg and Ferrell will work out. On a side note, I didn't know either Dwayne Johnson or Samuel Jackson starred in this. Quite interesting.

Tony said...

Nice review. I wasn't really all that interested in this one (I'll see it on video though) but Step Brothers really did grow on me (plus unlike everyone else apparently I REALLY liked Talledega Nights). I hated Step Brothers at first but a bunch of people at work really liked it and I watched it a couple more times with them because...well, when your boss wants you to watch Step Brothers with him instead of doing work what else am I gonna say. After the next two viewings I really did enjoy it.

Hitmandj said...

Good review, I enjoyed the movie, probably about the same amount as you did, I can't remember the married couple at all right now which may be because I should be sleeping. You also forgot to mention Damon Wayans Jr being in the movie....and sounds just like his damn father.

Seriously though, nice description without getting anything away from the film.