Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews The Other Guys
Disclaimer: I am not huge fan of Anchorman and my favorite Will Ferrel performance is from the film that put him on the map as a theatrical comedic actor: Elf. I know that people find the guy funny but to me, he plays essentially the same role in many of his films – clueless, yet egotistical with over-abundant quantities of self-esteem that would make any under-performing yet cocky high school kid blush.
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play detectives Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz, terribly mismatched police partners who are essentially paper-pushers at their precinct. At the beginning of the film they (and everyone else in the police station) are vastly overshadowed by a pair of super-cops played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson. Jackson and Johnson are the uber-hip, super popular, testosterone-oozing media darlings of the police force, and are looked up to by everyone in their precinct except for Terry. The film opens with a chase sequence with the dynamic duo, and while I get that it’s meant to be over-the-top, it left me thinking that I was in for a really stupid movie.
Thankfully, from there it down-shifted a bit and got funnier. Sam Jackson is getting to the point where it seems he just does self-parodies, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Dwayne Johnson plays his character in a manner that fits him like a glove (imagine his character from Get Smart, but double the ego and remove any hint of “nice guy”). Terry used to be a popular detective on the street until an unfortunate accident involving a well-known sports figure – and now he’s relegated mainly to desk duty with Gamble, someone with whom his relationship the word “incompatible” is a woefully inadequate descriptor.
Terry is an easily angered, aggressive kind of guy while Allen is a laid back, nerdy, goody-two-shoes personality. Most everything he does drives Terry crazy and makes the pair look silly in front of their co-workers. While Terry is desperate to get back into the thick of things on the street, Allen is quite content to be a desk jockey (he’s a police accountant). Allen’s “big case” is going after someone who is constructing a huge building without filling out the required scaffolding permits. It turns out that the person in question is one David Ershon (played by Steve Coogan), a billionare investor who has lost $32 billion through bad investments for a major bank. The bank is not about to have a quarterly financial report come out that reflects such a staggering loss, so they’re demanding that Ershon find a “sucker” from whom he can extract $32 billion in order to replace the loss. To ensure he doesn’t run off and that he completes this task, he is assigned a team of “bodyguards” led by Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone).
Eventually the scaffolding investigation leads our intrepid detectives to what’s going on with the billions, and Allen is determined to get to the bottom of it before someone is bilked out of $32 billion with Terry at his side.
A lot of people bash on Wahlberg as an actor, but I’m a fan of the guy. Here he actually let himself go a little in the gut area (belly fat) and it makes him seem more of a regular guy. He plays angry and on the edge well, although there was one scene where he confronts his ex-girlfriend in a ballet studio where his character jumps the rails completely and comes across like his IQ suddenly dropped about 60 points. I actually liked Ferrell in this film because it harkened back to his role as Buddy the Elf – very honest and straightforward, but without that over the top extreme ego his characters usually display. He and Wahlberg played well off of each other. Steve Coogan, who is usually very funny, was not even remotely funny in this film. There was a scene that was an obvious take-off on the “greed is good” speech by Michael Douglas in Wall Street which fell completely and utterly flat. It was weird seeing Eva Mendes as a subservient wife in the film – not bad, just weird.
Overall I found the film sporadically funny, with a lot of chuckles sprinkled throughout and the occasional laugh out loud moment. There were a lot of gags in the film in the “awkward funny” vein, which are often difficult to pull off. I’ve seen plenty of films where that’s attempted and the supposed humor only makes me cringe – here it was for the most part pretty funny. One thing that seemed added after the fact was the voiceover narration, which the film could have definitely done without. Oh, and a bit of a warning: I was really surprised to find out after the fact that this movie is rated PG-13 – as I sat watching it I would have sworn it was rated R due to the suggestive and vulgar language.
Finally, I have a caveat, which most of you will no doubt not heed: If you want to leave the theater having enjoyed this film and in a good mood, I would suggest that you leave just as the credits start rolling. Why? Because here you have what is supposed to be a goofy spoof of “buddy cop” action movies, but once the credits start to roll you’ll be presented with graphics and statistics with an obvious, blatant political message about the evils of capitalism, covering everything from corporate Ponzi schemes to CEO pay to what’s happened to the value of the average person’s 401K. Frankly, it was completely bizarre and as it started I was waiting for some kind of punch line – but soon enough I saw that directory Adam McKay was serious. If this had been attached to Oliver Stone’s upcoming Wall Street 2 I would have thought it an appropriate bookend – but at the end of a comedy?
Most bizarre and inappropriate idea, ever. I don’t know how the studio let this thing out the door with an ending like that.
So, if you leave the theater prior to the credits, you’ll probably left having enjoyed The Other Guys.