Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Movie Review: The Other Guys

The Other Guys ***
Directed By:
Adam McKay.
Written By: Adam McKay & Chris Henchy.
Starring: Will Ferrell (Allen Gamble), Mark Wahlberg (Terry Hoitz), Michael Keaton (Captain Gene Mauch), Steve Coogan (David Ershon), Eva Mendes (Dr. Sheila Gamble), Samuel L. Jackson (P.K. Highsmith), Dwayne Johnson (Christopher Danson), Rob Riggle (Martin), Damon Wayans Jr. (Fosse), Bobby Cannavale (Jimmy), Ray Stevenson (Roger Wesley), Andy Buckley (Don Beaman).

Will Ferrell can be one of the funniest actors on the planet given the right material to work with. Unfortunately, in the wrong role, he can also be one of the least funny people - his manic style can either make me laugh continuously, or leave me completely flat. His most frequent collaborator has been director Adam McKay - in four movies together they have only missed once - Step Brothers - while Anchorman and Talladega Nights rank among the funniest movies of the last decade - both are what I would call “smart stupid” comedies, in that there are as ridiculous as anything that someone like Adam Sandler would make, and yet they are a lot smarter than the appear. The Other Guys isn’t quite up to the level of those other two movies - but it’s damn close.

Ferrell stars as Allen Gamble, an accountant turned police detective who doesn’t like to do much of what most of us consider police work - no car chases or gun battles for him, he prefers to sit at his desk and do paper work. His partner is Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) who wants to get on the street and get some action - but is held back by Allen - but also because of a dark secret in his own past (which I will not reveal because it is one of the funniest moments in the movie). The stars of the department are Highsmith and Danson (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, hilarious is cameos that hit all the action movie cliché buttons hard, right up to their unexpected finale), and that is who Hoitz wants to be. Gamble may have an idea on who to pursue - David Ershon (Steve Coogan) - who may be running a Ponzi scam. It may not be glamorous work, but it could be important.

I won’t reveal any more of the plot because, honestly, the plot of the movie isn’t really the point of the movie. The movie is really about the interaction between Ferrell and Wahlberg - and I have to say I was surprised by how well they worked together. Ferrell is a little more restrained than normal - more repressed than normal, like he’s scared of himself. This works well for Ferrell who doesn’t give into his more manic nature for most of the movie. This character is not a million miles away from his other accountant character - in Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction, but this movie is not a serious movie like that one was. He delivers his one liners as good anyone out there. Wahlberg is also full of repressed rage in the movie - but he’s more in touch with his id, and prone to yelling. Wahlberg has always been a gifted comedic actor - he was hilarious in I Heart Huckabees and The Departed - but this is his first real comedy, and he delivers a great comedic performance. While Ferrell and Wahlberg carry the movie, they are ably supported by the entire cast - Michael Keaton is wonderful as the TLC quoting captain, Jackson and Johnson are great as the egomanical cops, Steve Coogan is once again hilarious as the “bad guy”, and Eva Mendes is great as Ferrell’s almost impossibly hot wife. They don’t get the opportunities that Ferrell and Wahlberg do to let loose, but they allow them to be good.
Co-writer/director Adam McKay is still a more talented writer than he is a director. As a writer, he gives his actors some of the best one liners of any movie this year. As a director perhaps his best attribute is that he stays out of the actors way. He certainly isn’t the best visual director out there. But when a movie is this well written, this funny pretty much from start to finish, can you really complain? The Other Guys is one of the most enjoyable comedies this summer - Kevin Smith should take note. He got all bent out of shape when critics trashed his similarly plotted Cop Out earlier this year - The Other Guys proves that critics can enjoy goofy comedies - but only when they are funny, and Smith’s movie was anything but.

No comments:

Post a Comment