Thursday, August 5, 2010
Review: "The Other Guys"
"The Other Guys" is less a buddy-cop movie and more just a comedy where jokesters play around with guns. "48 Hours" and the "Lethal Weapon" flicks had plenty of laughs, but you never doubted Nick Nolte or Mel Gibson as legitimate cops who could bust heads (or shoot them) if called upon.
The entire joke of "Guys" is premised on the assumption that Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are entirely implausible as police detectives. With Ferrell, I think that pretty much goes without saying, but Wahlberg actually got an Oscar nomination for playing a cop in "The Departed."
The solution director Adam McKay (who co-write the script with Chris Henchy) came up with is to turn Wahlberg's character, Terry Hoitz, into a failed badass. He's still got the snarl and the hand-to-hand moves, but he's become a laughingstock for shooting Derek Jeter while working a Yankees game.
For his sins, Terry is stuck with a pencil-pushing dweeb as a partner. Allen Gamble (Ferrell) came up in the accounting department, and always begs off going out on exciting calls for murders or bank robberies because there's so much paperwork to finish.
That happens when you're constantly volunteering to handle the scutwork for the department's undisputed stars, Highsmith and Danson.
Played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson in all-too-brief cameos, the duo star in an over-the-top chase sequence to open the film, including crashing their car into a city bus, and then taking over the bus to continue the pursuit, with the car still stuck inside it.
Alas, the hot dogs are soon sidelined by fate, leaving an opening for the losers, Hoitz and Gamble, to step up.
The movie is more plot-heavy than I would've liked -- something about a shady investor (Steve Coogan) plotting nefarious activities involving illegal scaffolding, and a billionaire who's been bilked, and an Australian black-ops guy (Ray Stevenson) -- the pieces of which never really fit together.
But the back-and-forth between Ferrell and Wahlberg has some real spit to it, with lots of great throwaway jokes and ad-libbed one-liners.
I especially liked Terry's left-field accusation that "the sound of your (pee) hitting the urinal sounds feminine." Or, "You want to disarm that guy? Take the batteries out of his calculator!"
I laughed when Allen, after being egged on by the other detectives into shooting a hole in the squad room, has his gun confiscated by the captain (Michael Keaton) and replaced with a wooden one. Later, this is downgraded to a rape whistle.
There's also a running joke about the geeky Allen being irresistible to improbably hot women. Eva Mendes plays his wife, who's so gorgeous and brainy that upon being introduced to her, Terry keeps insisting, "No, really. Who is that?"
It's scattershot comedy, spewing a thousand jokes against the screen to see what sticks. Some of it doesn't -- an excursion to see Allen's ex-girlfriend keeps setting up a gag that never arrives -- but plenty of it does.
Even if they're totally unbelievable as cops, Ferrell and Wahlberg are convincing as comedians pretending to be cops.
3 stars out of four