Ferrell's Just Coasting in an Uninspired Other Guys
- Friday, August 06, 2010
DVD Release Date: December 14, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: August 6, 2010
Rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material)
Run Time: 107 min.
Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Rob Riggle, Damon Wayans Jr.
After a legendary run on Saturday Night Live and subsequent instant classics on the big screen, Will Ferrell became the breakout comic star of the past decade. Recent efforts, however, have offered diminishing returns and his latest continues that decline.
That's not to say it's a complete disaster; The Other Guys definitely has its moments (an early face-off about "Lions vs. Tuna" comes to mind). For anyone who loves Ferrell's brand of absurd man-child humor, you get more of that here—but only in fits and starts. If his early films felt consistently inspired, this one follows the trend of feeling more like a work-for-hire. Ferrell's just coasting here, as is the whole movie.
The premise is simple and has potential. Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (Date Night, The Departed) play the titular "other guys" Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz, schlubby everyday New York City cops who don't make the headlines or get the glory. That distinction goes to Detectives Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson), two rule-breaking one-liner hotshots who are loved and admired by all regardless of how much mayhem and destruction they leave in their wake.
Their buddy-cop bravado outshines everyone else in the department, especially Gamble and Hoitz who are true opposites. Wahlberg's Hoitz is a disgraced adrenaline junkie from the Bronx who's paired with Ferrell's (ironically-named) Gamble, a straight-laced accountant desk jockey who's never left the safe confines of the office, let alone fired a gun, and is an easy stooge for pranks.
After the high profile duo is taken out of commission, it's up to Gamble and Hoitz to follow the paper trail of a corrupt laundering scheme that becomes more dangerous (and explosive) than the nature of the crime would initially suggest.
The conceit is obvious: put two mismatched underachievers into scenarios usually consigned to macho slick-talking action-movie renegades that are as smooth with the women as they are proficient with any-and-all forms of explosives and weaponry—and comedy will ensue. And it does. Occasionally. At times. Here and there. But not always, or even enough.
The inconsistent execution is particularly disappointing as it's not only a Will Ferrell vehicle, but is produced with longtime collaborator writer/director Adam McKay who steered the endlessly inventive and quotable earlier works Anchorman and Talladega Nights. The Other Guys is in that vein but pales in comparison.
The script plays like a patchwork of sketch-comedy ideas that were never developed into a larger narrative; it feels like a first draft. Some would accuse their earlier films of the same problem (I wouldn't), but those also had the benefit of a strong central comic creation with uniquely brash traits. Here, Ferrell's straight-laced and super-nice Gamble isn't nearly as hilarious or distinct as Ron Burgundy or Ricky Bobby.
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