The Other Guys (2010)
Director: Adam McKay Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Steve Coogan, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson, Dwayne Johnson
Certificate: 12A Running Time: 107 Minutes
Tagline: “When the top cops are busy…our only hope is… The Other Guys”
Hollywood has produced countless cop films over the years. More often than not they feature hero cops who have saved the day over and over. But what about the other guys – the cops lurking in the background who get lumbered with all the mundane assignments and spend half their time doing paperwork while the top guys bask in the glory? Will they ever have a chance to show what they can do when they get the chance? Well thanks to another McKay / Ferrell collaboration, we get to find out! I suppose their brand of comedic lunacy is an acquired taste but it’s a fruitful partnership that has so far yielded the highly humorous Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers, so the pedigree is certainly there. I don’t know about you but I was dearly hoping The Other Guys would keep their run intact…
Detectives Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) are the ‘other guys’ in question. The former is a bureaucratic pen pusher while the latter is an enthusiastic detective who was lumbered with Gamble for a partner after he shot a baseball star by mistake. They, and indeed most of their department, play second fiddle to the comically over-the-top hero cop duo of Detectives Danson (Johnson) and Highsmith (Jackson) who get all the exciting, high-profile cases and therefore all the action, glory, girls, etc, and dump the paperwork and other boring stuff on their colleagues. Until, that is, their wildy over-confident attitudes finally get the better of them! The resulting vacuum in the department sees several detectives vying for the top jobs including, much to Gamble’s annoyance, his partner Hoitz. With Hoitz almost literally dragging Gamble out of his comfort zone in the office, the pair investigate a seemingly routine permit violation by multi-billionaire, David Ershon (Coogan), and in the process discover what could be something far bigger.
Anyone going into this film knowing the track-record of those involved is likely to be expecting the same kind of all-out crazy, sometimes even nonsensical gag-fest seen in Anchorman and… well, pretty much all their films together, but this film is slightly different. For one thing it actually has something resembling a plot! The film also lacks many of the familiar faces from other ‘frat pack’ movies, instead providing other actors with opportunities to flex their comedic muscles. Standing out among them is Micheal Keaton as Captain Gene Mauch, who moonlights in a hardware store between run in’s with our hapless heroes. Eva Mendes also has a rare chance to shine as Allen’s ‘plain, ordinary’ wife, Shiela, who seems happy to be treated like crap by her hubby! The two ‘star’ cops, Jackson and Johnson, use every cliche in the book during their limited screentime and are great fun to watch. Hopefully the DVD will have some more footage of them.
As for the two main guys… In my view, Wahlberg seems better suited to some kinds of roles than others and I’m still undecided about his performance in this one. I think, rather than his acting, it’s his character I didn’t really like here. He’s great as the once-decent cop who gets dumped back at the bottom of the ladder after a stupid mistake but he spends pretty much the whole film shouting at his partner! I can understand he’d be frustrated being saddled with an moronic accountant for a partner – he just wants to get out and arrest scumbags – but it still gets a bit much sometimes. Still, he does have some funny moments too, such as his constant lusting after Gamble’s wife, Shiela!
Will Ferrell is pretty much as you’d expect. Most of his comedic moments are played straight but there’s not as many as I went in expecting. He does have some awesome moments though, which is to be expected since he was co-screenwriter. Particular favourites are his response to Hoitz’s ‘lion vs tuna’ put-down and their attempts to play good cop-bad cop with Coogan, who, despite being a fantastic comedy actor himself, has a largely thankless role here as spineless ‘villian’, Ershon. When I first saw the trailer to this film, I thought it was going to be one of the best comedies I’d seen for years. I’m a bit of a Will Ferrell fan and his brand of lunacy appeals to me completely, but I couldn’t help but feel a little… underwhelmed by this film. It has some brilliant moments of comedy gold but they’re not as frequent as I was expecting, and some parts of the film are a little drab to be honest. Still, it’s a much more cohesive film that we usually get from these guys and it’s definitely worth a watch, particularly if you’re a Ferrell fan. Maybe a potential sequel will up the gag-count a bit!
RKS Score: 7/10