The Other Guys
Who cares about them?
Who cares about them?
Comedy is a very subjective genre in the popular entertainment industry. What may make one person laugh so hard it hurts, another will sit in confused bewilderment. For instance, when I saw Dinner for Schmucks with a group of friends, I was having a generally good time chuckling at Steve Carell’s wacky antics while my buddies found the whole thing so painful to watch that they left the theater. On the flipside, director Adam McKay’s previous collaborations with Will Ferrell, which include Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers, were hugely popular with my entire high school class, yet I found them rather overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed Anchorman and Talladega quite a lot, despite not having the same kind of ecstatic praise for them like my comrades. Step Brothers, on the other hand, was recommended to me so many times by people that I finally gave in and rented the movie only to feel lukewarm about it afterwards. Why do so many people put these movies on a pedestal as untouchable classics (ESPECIALLY Anchorman)? The Other Guys reaffirms my generally unimpressed feelings about McKay’s output, proving to be a big misfire that never quite takes off.
Plot Synopsis: After accidently shooting a Yankees player while on duty at a game, NYPD officer Terry Hoitz is relegated to desk duty with mild-mannered pushover Allan Gamble as his partner. Gamble enjoys doing paperwork, much to Hoitz’s annoyance, and continually sucks up to hero cops Highsmith and Danson by voluntarily doing their deskwork. When Highsmith and Danson spectacularly fall (quite literally) in the line of duty, Terry sees an opportunity to get back on the streets and save his reputation. But rather than going out on more heroic calls, Gamble saddles the two of them with a case concerning construction permits controlled by businessman David Ershon. Frustrated by Gamble’s lack of will to get into some serious action, Hoitz nevertheless tags along for the ride, and the two unearth a conspiracy that may be larger than they originally anticipated.
Never mind, I take that back. The Other Guys does take off in glorious fashion with Samuel L. Jackson (Highsmith) and The Rock (Danson) kicking ass and spouting off great action hero one-liners, only to suddenly sputter out once they leave the picture and the focus shifts to Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. If the movie had been all about Jackson and The Rock, there could have been some comedy gold waiting to be mined here, with their reckless nature and all-around cocky attitude livening up the movie. But of course, this is an Adam McKay film, so that means instead the real protagonist must be Will Ferrell. Now, I actually found Ferrell to be somewhat restrained here, dialing down many of his “man child” ticks from previous films and portraying Allan Gamble as a genuinely smart character who is just absentminded and a little ignorant on occasion. Wahlberg on the other hand, tries way too hard to be funny at times, cranking up Hoitz’s anger issues to rather annoying levels in many scenes. Many of their scenes of buddy cop banter come off as repetitive and tiring, rather than eliciting even a giggle. The two are better together in the more subdued parts, such as Hoitz’s utter bewilderment of the attraction hot women have towards Gamble, and their arguments about what music gets them pumped up for action. Michael Keaton also pops in time and time again as the chief for a rare funny part.
But too much of The Other Guys is devoted to either this bland back-and-forth talk between its heroes or long stretches of boring plot exposition. And while Steve Coogan (Ershon) does his best to provide some sneering menace to his scenes, the movie gets so bogged down in the whole conspiracy (which doesn’t even make much sense or have any coherency) that the humor is forced to either miss its mark (which it does a lot) or take a backseat. Like the previously mentioned Schmucks, The Other Guys is paced like a slow jog, wandering around in missed gags with a few destructive action scenes to spice things up when it’s not paying too much attention to the uninteresting plot. You could say that that’s the joke: that the cops become heroes because of a seemingly uninteresting case, but then I could just watch The Untouchables because that movie offers the same joke as its final punch line (despite not even being a comedy) rather than exhausting the premise to feature length. However, because of McKay’s 100-jokes-a-minute style, there’s bound to be some gags that stick, and sure enough there are quite a few setups that pay off well in the end. And Ice-T’s tough guy narration, while unnecessary, does provide a certain amount of amusement during a couple of the dead-weight sections.
Most of the parts that stick are unfortunately during the beginning and ending acts, with the middle becoming a long, boring slog to the finish line. If it’s any consolation, The Other Guys is nowhere near as bad as Cop Out, the other supposed buddy-cop satire from earlier this year, even if that’s not saying much anyway. But if McKay ever decides to do a prequel focusing on Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock as their ridiculously arrogant and self-centered characters, I’ll be happy to pay something to see that.