Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan
Director: Adam McKay
Writer(s): Adam McKay, Chris Henchy
Cinematography: Oliver Wood
Original Score: Jon Brion
Running Time: 107 Mins.
Anchorman, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, three films that all have three things in common, director/writer Adam McKay, star/writer Will Ferrell, and their status as some of the funniest comedies to have been produced in the last 10 years. Obviously of the three one of them sits head and shoulders above the other two as a bona fide classic but this is not to discredit the others as shining examples of the genre poking fun at a scenario without liberally tearing into it as to make it seem too spoof-like, so when you know that the same talent is behind The Other Guys you will be unsurprised to learn it is marked with the same stamp of comedic quality, alas it never really comes close to challenging the reigning champ as the duo’s best.
Opening with an action scene Michael Bay would be proud of, we see New York’s “hero cops”, Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, take down some perps for a rather minor misdemeanour leaving millions of dollars worth of damage in their wake, not to worry though as this is their prerogative as those everyone else look up to, leaving the titular “other guys” to fill out the rather dull and beaurocratic paperwork. These pen-pushers are Ferrell’s Officer Hoitz (an auditor promoted out of the basement) and Wahlberg’s Gamble (demoted to desk work after an accidental shooting of a baseball star), one is happy with his lot whilst the other yearns to get back on the beat, suffice to say it’s not long before Gamble’s dream comes true as the hero cops bow out early…
Johnson and Jackson are at the tip of the films comedic iceberg, and while the laughs don’t necessarily get bigger they certainly become more regular as the rather (intentionally?) convoluted plot leads Hoitz and Gamble around New York via a hilarious but very brief trip to Las Vegas giving the relationship between the mis-matched pair given the time and space needed for their characters to feel rounded and not just comedy foils. It may well come as a shock to know that Ferrell all but erases his man-child act that all too often sees him overplay a little bit too much and leaves Wahlberg with as many, if not more, crazy moments that provide the real belly laughs, it has to be said that it is refreshing to see a double act that doesn’t simply reduce one of the two down to the straight guy and in this sense The Other Guys is unexpectedly subversive and original.
As the villains (Ray Stevenson and Steve Coogan) scheme unfolds the end draws near and the pace slows a little too much allowing time for a handful of rather needless scenes, notably those involving the central pair’s love interests, but just as yout brain may start to wander there will be another jolt of funny right around the corner with the support cast ably backing up Ferrell and Wahlberg, however it is Michael Keaton as their boss who comes out with the best lines, even if they are all TLC lyrics. As is typical of McKay and Ferrell some of the running jokes hit in a big way while others miss the mark after the second run-through but this is a nominal casualty in the comedy genre and one that is destined to never fully be resolved!
The main issue I took with The Other Guys was the rival team up opposing Hoitz and Gamble, Rob Riggle and Damon Wayans prove to be just far too annoying to be funny, something which Riggle particularly seems to be cursed with in all his roles. This though is not problem enough to deter from the positives exuded by all others involved for McKay and Ferrell have once again managed to tread that fine line between comedy and spoof, one on which a comedy can live of die, suffice to say The Other Guys well and truly lives as well as living up to the duo’s previous films slotting in there between Talladega Nights and Step Brothers.
Keeping up the quality and reputation of a good film-making partnership is not easy, especially on the comedy circuit, all of which means I can say with great pleasure that with The Other Guys they have achieved a quartet of great comedies…though Anchorman still remains the crowning glory.