The Other Guys Review


When I first saw Anchorman back in 2004, I thought Will Ferrell was the king of the world. He could do no wrong in my book. It was by far the funniest movie of that year, and it remains one of my favorite comedies of the past decade. Slowly but surely, Ferrell wore out his welcome in my movie universe. Talladega Nights was decent. Semi-Pro was pretty bad. Then, came Step Brothers, which I found excruciating to sit through.

The Other Guys, however, is a return to form for Ferrell and director Adam McKay. The film doesn’t hit every note, but the misses are few and far between. The plot makes little to no sense, but the jokes are clever, and Ferrell and co-star Mark Wahlberg have a good rapport.

There are three types of cops in the NYPD. There are Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson)—the kings of the castle. They are media darlings, and their fellow cops worship them. Then, there are the “jokers and ball-busters.” This group constitutes the majority of New York cops. They are good at their jobs, but they’re delusional if they think they’ll reach Highsmith and Danson’s level. Finally, there are the other guys—Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). Allen is a former forensic accountant who loves the stability of his desk job. Terry was a rising star until he accidently shot Derek Jeter just before Game 7 of the World Series.

When Highsmith and Danson are suddenly (and hilariously) brought down from their perch, it becomes every cop’s goal to replace them. The captain (Michael Keaton) tells them the only way to do so is to solve a major case. Terry is ready, but Allen is reluctant. He instead takes Terry to investigate a routine scaffolding permit case. When their suspect (Steve Coogan) is kidnapped right under their noses, they get the case Terry was hoping for, but it might be more than they bargained for.

The scenes with Highsmith and Danson are as funny as anything I’ve seen in years, and McKay is smart enough to remove them from the proceedings before their act gets old. Once the film shifts its focus to Allen and Terry, it loses a little steam. But these characters are funny enough to carry their 90 minutes. As with most action-comedies, the weakest section is when the film shift into full-on action for its conclusion. But in terms of comedy, these two are a very solid duo.

Ferrell changes up his act for this film. Characters like Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby are funny for how cocky and arrogant they are. Allen isn’t arrogant at all (except maybe toward his wife—but he has his reasons). Instead, he’s innocent and somewhat naïve. The character reminded me a little of Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It’s a nice change of pace for the comedian who has lost a few steps in recent years.

Mark Wahlberg has played the tough guy plenty of times before, but never has he played it for laughs. He doesn’t have as much material to work with as Ferrell—the character is supposed to be somewhat unpleasant, and Wahlberg plays it that way—but when he is given the chance, he’s quite funny.

The action scenes are completely ordinary. The film definitely leans more toward the comedy side of the action-comedy genre. One of the Highsmith and Danson scenes is hilarious in how over-the-top the action is. But Allen and Terry’s shootouts and chases are very forgettable.

There’s not much point complaining about The Other Guys’ flaws because it does exactly what it promises—provide laughs. Parts of it are funnier than others, but I was consistently amused and thoroughly entertained. And in the dog days of August like this, that’s about all you can ask for.

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