Meet Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg). They’re not the hero cops you see on the news, they’re the desk jockeys who get lumbered with the crap assignments and paperwork. But when they get a chance to crack a big case, Terry spots a chance for them to shine.
After the one-two punch worries about overexposure and the box office flop that was Land Of The Lost, Will Ferrell is probably glad to be back in the comfortably collaborative arms of Adam McKay, his cohort on such classics as Anchorman and Talladega Nights.
The Other Guys isn’t as consistently entertaining as those two, since it also tries to hew to the plot, in which the threat comes across more like a Michael Moore documentary than a solid reason for the boys in blue to get involved. It also leaves Steve Coogan struggling in a fitfully amusing, spineless ‘villain’ role. Thankfully, though, it’s still loaded with big laughs in patches.
That’s helped by the pair surrounding themselves with a blend of folk to whom funny comes naturally and those who don’t always get to play in the laughter field. Michael Keaton is a comic god here, delivering a new spin on the unforgiving captain with his subconsciously TLC-referencing, homewares store-moonlighting Gene Mauch. Chief among the latter group is Mark Wahlberg, who pitches Terry’s strained desire to wheedle his way back into the top ranks perfectly. Cursed with dull duties and Allen as a partner after accidentally injuring a baseball legend on the job, he’s a seething cauldron of anger, and the perfect foil for Ferrell. The pair have a clumsy chemistry that works for the most part, their conflicting attitudes generating some of the biggest laughs. Eva Mendes, meanwhile, is funnier than she’s been since All About The Benjamins, adding real enthusiasm for nutty moments to her usual slinky sexuality.
Will gets to be Will, as he slowly peels away Allen’s layers to reveal the dark and yet hilarious past of the pencil pusher who’s initially a figure of fun for his peers. As the former forensic accountant warms to the idea of becoming an all-action officer, he mutates into something just as likely to generate chuckles. Special mention must also go to Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, who provide the meathead inspiration for Terry and Allen in their quest to become more adventurous law enforcers. Opening the film with a spot-on parody of every OTT police cliché, they’re also the stars of one of the film’s best gags. After the sour Cop Out experience earlier this year, the Guys are a tonic.
Skewers the action genre while also finding room for sheer madness. We’ve still yet to see the equal of Ron Burgundy, but this latest offering is a wonky yet worthy addition to the McKay/Ferrell pantheon. .