(One of these things is not like the other…)
Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes and Steve Coogan. Directed by Adam McKay. 107 minutes. 14A
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg really are a perfect match. I mean, aside from their common good looks and suave personalities, they really are similar, career-wise. They both started out doing something totally comical – Will was a impression extraordinaire on SNL (not to mention the star of some of the funniest movies ever – Anchorman, Zoolander, Step Brothers) and Mark was well, Marky Mark (and my favourite karate-loving hot mess, Dirk Diggler). But somewhere along the line, they decided to ditch their ridiculous alter-egos and take a turn for the awfully awkward.
Mark tried his hand at terrible revenge thrillers (Shooter, Max Payne) and the worst M. Night Shamalyan movie ever, wearing out his “I’m a serious actor!” face. Will went the opposite way, going for low, low-brow comedies where not even his genius delivery could save the terrible writing (Land of the Lost, Semi-Pro). For a while there, it was almost as though they were losing their mojo, fading into the land of amusing cameos, silly internet videos and behind-the-scenes work. But all that changed (at least for me) after I watched the awesomeness that is The Other Guys.
The police duo we meet in The Other Guys aren’t hot-shots with cool guns and even cooler catch phrases. Allen (Ferrell) and Terry (Wahlberg) are the runts of the NYPD litter – the paper-pushing duds of dudes who spend their days bickering and watching the other cops get the good calls. They’re the guys who nobody even talks to, unless they need something. They’re, you know, the other guys.
When you first see Terry, all buff and tough, you wonder why he’s stuck with a nerd like number-crunching, 70s glasses-rockin’, Little River Band enthusiast, Allen. But then you learn that he’s got anger management and trust issues, both of which caused him to shoot legendary Yankee, Derek Jeter, in the foot. Oh, and that he’s a little too experienced with ballet (he says he learned it while making fun of gay kids on the playground – real nice). And he likes to refer to himself as a “peacock” – cause in his warped mind, peacocks fly. Sound absurd? It totally is. But it’s this wackiness that makes it one of the funniest movies of the summer.
It’s not just Wahlberg’s story that’s silly. The whole movie is really out of control humour-wise. There’s one particularly extensive joke about a lion and tuna, an awesome reoccurring reference to the endlessly catchy catalogue of 90s girl group, TLC and even a riff on homeless backseat orgies (Seriously). If any of this appeals to you, get ready to bust your popcorn-filled gut. And if not, don’t fear. You’ll still get your fill of giggles as you watch gawky Allen get sex-eyes from every hot lady on screen, including his wife, Sheila (Eva Mendes).
But all these jokes would fall flat if it wasn’t for the chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg. They banter seamlessly with each other, making their comments even more biting and quotable. Ferrell comes off a littler more funny in the end (he is the seasoned comedian), but Wahlberg really does try to keep up – and does so admirably. But that should be no surprise if you saw him steal many a scene away from the comedy king and queen of America (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) with his cameo in Date Night.
The only part of The Other Guys that isn’t ridiculously awesome is the actual action scenes. Many of the biggest chase sequences are drawn out, alternating between blink-and-you’ll-miss-a-huge-car-crash craziness and way-too-slow motion fights. But perhaps this so-fast-it’s-boring approach was intentional – just another part of the buddy comedy farce. Just think of the countless big ticket action flicks that reply on that formula in place of an decent writing. In The Other Guys, it’s just the other way around. B+