Going into yet another collaboration from Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay, I tried to keep an open mind about The Other Guys. Not being the biggest fan of either of their previous works, Step Brothers & Talladega Nights, I'll admit I was a bit skeptical this time around. However, I really liked it. Partly because of Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, but most of all because of Michael Keaton (maybe that's just me). So, if you aren't one of those die hard Will Ferrell fans, you still might enjoy this flick if you give it a chance.
The set-up isn't the most original in movie history, but then again, how often is Hollywood original nowadays? Two New York City cops, Gamble (Ferrell) and Hoitz (Wahlberg), are mismatched detectives who are the laughing stock of their whole precinct. Gamble is the desk cop and Hoitz is the all-action cop who is forced into a desk job after accidentally shooting New York Yankee Derek Jeter (pretty funny cameo). Of course, there are certain more successful and popular detectives (Jackson & Johnson) who steal the spotlight and look down on detectives like Gamble & Hoitz. But soon, Jackson and Johnson are out of the picture, and everyone is itching to take their place. Hoitz wants more action and respect out of the job and tries to take their place, but he first has to get his partner Gamble out from behind his desk. Eventually, the two detectives get caught up in a huge crime that's bigger than both of them.
The first quarter of this movie is great because it does make you laugh. The action sequences are way over the top, but they work because they're in a comedy and you can't help but crack up while watching them. Ferrell is toned down compared to his last couple of movie characters, playing more of a straight man for the flick. This leaves Wahlberg to let loose a little more. And let loose he does, because Hoitz has a serious anger management problem. They are an odd pairing, but Farrell's serious cop and Wahlberg's angry cop make it work for the most part.
The middle of the film starts to sag a bit, possibly because the main plot about a big corporation stealing from a mystery investor gets a little too confusing for a comedy. I could have followed the plot, but I really didn't want to. I just wanted to keep laughing at Hoitz getting mad at Gamble, and not get a modern day history lesson about CEOs getting richer.
There are some very funny side characters in the The Other Guys that might make this movie worthwhile for some people who still aren't convinced. Sam Jackson and The Rock have small roles, but they don't disappoint. They play up their performances like they were the actual leads in this movie. Eva Mendes tries her luck at comedy as Will Farrell's on screen wife, but she doesn't get a lot to work with. It's not that she isn't funny, it's just she doesn't have a lot of screen time.
For my money, though, Michael Keaton had some of the funniest stuff in the movie, being both the police captain and a manager at 'Bed, Bath & Beyond' on the weekends. Keaton was great even though I wasn't expecting him to be so funny. An ongoing gag in the film saw Keaton throwing TLC lyrics into regular conversation, which made everyone in the theater laugh. With Toy Story 3 and The Other Guys in theaters this summer, it looks like a Keaton comeback!
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.