Monday, April 11, 2011

The Other Guys

Directed by Adam McKay.
2010. Rated PG-13, 107 minutes.
Will Ferrell
Mark Wahlberg
Eva Mendes
Steve Coogan
Michael Keaton
Damon Wayans Jr
Rob Riggle
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Samuel L. Jackson
Natalie Zea

After the death of the city’s two most heroic cops, Det. Hoitz (Wahlberg) decides it’s time for he and his partner Det. Gamble (Ferrell) to step up and fill the void. The problem is heroism doesn’t come easy for these gents. Hoitz is a hothead, itching to get into some real action while Gamble’s name is pure irony since he’s perfectly content to sit at his desk all day, every day.

The vast majority of people reading this will either love this movie or hate it to no end. In other words, it’s a Will Ferrell comedy. Over the top stupidity is the default mode of humor. Occasionally, something slyly intelligent sneaks onto the screen. If you’re already laughing at the stupid stuff, you’ll howl when something smart happens. If you’re not already laughing, these will be the few occasions you’ll chuckle, just a bit.

Ferrell returns to the familiarity of his best known characters. He’s well meaning and high-spirited, but also a bit neurotic and certainly naïve. Of course, in every buddy cop flick, the buddies have to be polar opposites. Therefore, Wahlberg plays Hoitz as high strung, ready to jump into the fray, but still generally down on himself for some mistakes he’s made. Their contrasting personalities is just the first of the action flick clichés put through the ringer. There are many to be skewered and The Other Guys tries to hit as many of them as possible. My favorite being Gamble’s rant on people coolly strolling away from explosions in the movies.

Knowing that this movie is aware how dumb it is may be the key to enjoying it. If you take it seriously, either as an action flick or a comedy, you’ll be severely disappointed. If taken as a riff on the action-comedy genre then you might have fun with it. Even so, I will grant that some jokes either go on too long or simply fall flat right away. While it’s not one of Ferrell’s best, it definitely has its moments. This movie succeeds in most areas where Kevin Smith’s Cop Out tries and fails miserably. TOG actually works in some areas.

There is one thing TOG takes seriously. Unfortunately, that one thing is product placement. The brand-name dropping and label shots reach distracting proportions. Perhaps worst of all, it often feels like a really long commercial for the Toyota Prius. Everyone in the movie cracks jokes about it, but when push comes to shove, she performs like a champ. I’m still not even thinking about buying one, so there.

In the end, this is a take it or leave it sort of picture. It’s exceedingly dumb, but in enough of the right spots. If you’re a glass half full type and think dumb can work, take it. If you think that dumb is just dumb and should be ignored, leave it. Better yet, how much do you like Will Ferrell?

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

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