Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (director of and writing partner on films like Step Brothers an Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) reunite for The Other Guys, a high-octane send-up of the buddy-cop genre. Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz, detectives relegated to desk duty while glory-hog, super-cops Highsmith and Danson (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, respectively) see all the action. It’s an arrangement that suits Gamble just fine but irritates Hoitz to no end. But when Gamble, a forensic accountant, discovers a series of building permit irregularities the two stumble into a crime of Bernie Madoff-ian proportions – now they just need to get someone to listen to them.
Will Ferrell movies (at least the good ones) are populated with wildly outlandish characters who are only tangentially tethered to reality. However, this time out Ferrell is much more restrained; practically subdued when compared with some of his past performance. He spends much of the time playing straight-man to Wahlberg as Hoitz, his perpetually pissed-off partner. That’s not to say that Ferrell doesn’t generate laughs, they’re just not as overly-broad as we’re used to. Wahlberg gives a solid performance, but it is somewhat hamstrung by the character’s one-joke premise. Hoitz is every bit as good as the wunderkind officers that the entire city idolizes, but he’s been taken off the streets due to a single (but extraordinarily high profile) mistake. Like Donald Duck before him, his reaction to every frustration (no matter its size) is seething frustration. It’s a vein they mine repeatedly, though it’s not quite as rich as they seem to think it is.
The Other Guys succeeds when it’s being silly but comes to a screeching halt every time it tries to advance, or even worse explain, its plot. This is especially odd given how simple the villain’s financial malfeasances ultimately turn out to be. The movie’s main, and almost fatal, flaw is how much time it cedes to the story. Earlier this year Kevin Smith gave us the similarly themed Cop Out. While Smith’s plot was equally as convoluted, he wisely made zero attempts to actually explain it. Conversely, though The Other Guys isn’t quite as streamlined in the plot department, it’s far and away the funnier of the two films. This is the film Smith was trying to make. However, neither of the police procedural parodies ever rises to the level of Hot Fuzz or the criminally under-seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Anchorman and 1 being Land of the Lost, The Other Guys gets a 6.
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