THE OTHER GUYS
-- director Adam McKay’s romp through NYC with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg -- is a film in search of an identity. At times it seems like a spoof on over-the-top action movies, at other times it seems like another odd-couple “buddy” movie, and sometimes it seems like a disjointed series of sketches from SNL. You could get whiplash from trying to keep up with the thin, scattered plot. There are some genuine laughs in it, but overall, it’s just not that funny.
The film opens with Highsmith and Danson, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, the city’s super-cop darlings in a high-speed chase complete with slo-mo crashes and explosions. Cheers and commendations follow any exploit of theirs, but they are hastily exited from the film (within the first 5 minutes), which leaves the “super cop” slots available for the wannabes. The wannabes include the rest of their precinct of macho boneheads, led by an extremely low-key and mumbling Michael Keaton as Captain Gene Mauch. That is, everyone except Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell), a forensic accountant who has been transferred to a detective’s desk for unexplained reasons. Gamble is an annoying, sensitive-guy type who prefers the safety of desk duty to the out of control streets. Mark Wahlberg plays Terry Hoitz, a wannabe, macho bonehead who has been exiled to partnership with Gamble due to shooting the wrong guy (the REALLY wrong guy) in a security gig gone wrong at the World Series. The exasperated Hoitz has no patience for Gamble, the constant butt of department jokes, and wants nothing more than to redeem himself by breaking a BIG case and attaining super-cop status. Gamble thinks Hoitz should deal with his anger issues. Ironically, Gamble has a secret past that will come in handy later in the film, once he convinces Hoitz and Captain Gene that he has discovered a huge financial breach (think Lehmann Bros. and Bernie Madoff) which makes them the target of some pretty nasty people.
The villain is David Ershon -- played by British actor Steve Coogan -- who brings a bit of Monty Pythonesque humor to the table. Eva Mendes plays Sheila, Gamble’s surprisingly gorgeous wife, and she seems to be present mainly as eye candy and to be the brunt of obnoxious sexual jokes. In fact, crude sexual references and bathroom humor are plentiful. If you’re looking for witty repartee and high-brow humor, this is not your movie. If you’re a fourteen-year-old boy, you’ll think it’s hilarious.
Will Ferrell is, well, Will Ferrell. If you are a fan of his particular brand of comedy, you’ll probably like this film. He goes from subdued to outrageous in a nanosecond. Mark Wahlberg only comes alive in the few scenes where gets to perform as you would expect in an actual Mark Wahlberg action picture. Otherwise, he acts like someone is forcing him to do this gig as penance.
So, the bottom line is that you will enjoy this film if you’re a Will Ferrell fan, or if you’re studying to be a stunt coordinator. Otherwise, for THE OTHER GUYS, you might want to look the other way.