By Eric Jaffe
It’s been almost three years since the last time I enjoyed a Will Ferrell comedy. Granted there was “Step Brothers” which, despite being monumentally idiotic and largely devoid of plot or purpose, provided some laughs, but for the most part, Ferrell’s career has been on a sharp decline since “Blades of Glory”. This weekend saw he release of “The Other Guys”, Ferrell’s latest collaboration with director Adam McKay (the genius behind “Anchorman”, “Talladega Nights”, and the aforementioned “Step Brothers”) and my expectations were lower than Darkside Vol. 1’s chart debut. Thankfully, “The Other Guys” blew my expectations out of the water. In short, this Ferrell’s best work since “Talladega Nights” and arguably the funniest movie of the summer (paralleled only by “The Last Airbender”).
In “The Other Guys”, Ferrell plays detective Allan Gamble, a forensic accountant with a outrageously dirty past. Unlike Ferrell’s pervious roles, Gamble is the quiet type – a character who would rather sit at his desk filling out paperwork than go out in the field. Gamble’s partner, Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg), is much of the opposite. A trigger-happy cop with an anger issue, Hoitz was assigned to desk duty by a superior officer (Keaton) after a hilarious incident at a Yankee game.
Like in any good “Copedy”, the chemistry between Gamble and Hoitz is far away the film’s strongest and most important feature. It’s absolutely hilarious to watch these characters interact with one another. Putting his best foot forward, McKay derives most of the film’s humor from sequences of Hoitz criticizing Gamble’s relaxed attitude and "feminine" behavior. Wahlberg, another actor who is in desperate need of a comeback role, does a fine job as Hoitz. He occasionally comes off as a bit cheesy but, hey, this isn’t supposed to be Oscar-bait and Wahlberg is far better here than he was in “The Happening”. (Honestly, how do you go from an Oscar nomination to starring in an M. Night Shyamalan film? Not to mention a starring role in “Max Payne”).
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Far from a perfect comedy, “The Other Guys” does have its share of problems. For one, the film is way too long. The one-joke premise can only be stretched so far. This is the type of movie that should never exceed an hour and twenty-six minutes (it’s an exact science). At almost 2 hours (including previews), “The Other Guys” outstays it’s welcome – becoming slightly redundant. Other issues include a plot that, while more intelligent than expected, takes itself a bit too seriously, and the complete waste of Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Coogan, and Dwayne Johnson. Also, something tells me that the film would have benefited from an “R” rating. With a bit more swearing and violence, “The Other Guys” could have been America’s “Hot Fuzz” – instead it comes off as a better version of “Cop Out”.
Despite its flaws, there is no denying that “The Other Guys” is a solid step in the right direction for both Ferrell and Wahlberg. It’s no “Anchorman”, but it does have its share of excellent one-liners. Thanks to excellent performances and shockingly well-made action sequences, I give “The Other Guys” a solid recommendation.