After zillions of cop movies, buddy and lone-wolf, comedic and dramatic, the type of action that movie cops get up to has evolved into big, loud boom boom and total disregard for administrative aftermath. Even TV procedurals skip over a lot of the procedures as an act of mercy to the story. The Other Guys dives in with a hilariously hyperbolic “typical day” for wundercops Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson; I confess I would watch their high-octane spin-off cop show if they had one) — and caps it with the cost/benefit analysis.
The eponymous Other Guys? They are desk jockeys Will Ferrell and his unwilling partner, Mark Wahlberg. Their bad-cop/nerd-cop dynamic isn’t anything new, but they bring great energy to the trope. Ferrell is of course no stranger to comedy (whether you find his comedy funny or not), but he generously cedes a lot of the big funny bluster that he’s usually known for to relative comedy newbie Wahlberg. Wahlberg is no stranger to ripped-abs action, but his epic frustration and infamous failings plopped him into this desk jail and he’s gonna rattle those bars until he gets a chance on a real case. These guys have terrific chemistry together, and my companion and I were merrily quoting our favorite early-movie exchange on the way out. (Let’s just say it involves an unlikely Animal Planet confrontation.)
I think we all knew the artist formerly known as Marky Mark could be funny, and it’s odd to think of how little comedic — well, intentionally comedic — exposure he’s had. Ferrell dials back on the habitual grandstanding that for me kills the funny midstride and goes for the understated and sincere nerd thing that Steve Carell is busy patenting.
The script, co-written by Chris Henchy and director Adam McKay definitely doesn’t know hew to the probable or even possible, but it is definitely funny. McKay has some serious crap on his filmography (and a historic unwillingness to stop Will Ferrell from getting in his own way), but I think these past three years of the Funny or Die site have been a really excellent school for both of them. The pacing is great, the dialogue is funny, and the situations, whether ridiculous or earnest, are solid.
Steve Coogan is a corporate investment bastard who’s the bad guy our nerds are trying to take down. It’s timely and satisfying to watch him sweat and classic and satisfying to watch the captain (Michael Keaton) gum up the works. The music is pure high-testosterone ass-kicking rock, with some seriously good use of some soft and easy favorites from the ’70’s and today. The cast twinkles with fun, smaller parts (Rob Riggle, Eva Mendes, Jackson & Johnson, Bobby Cannavale, Lindsay Sloane, and a completely unrecognizable Damon Wayans, Jr.) and the story is lots of fun. Stay through the infuriating real-life financial scandal infographics during the credits for a silly little stinger. We had fun, I bet you will too.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 8/6/10
Time in minutes 107
Director Adam McKay
Studio Columbia Pictures