The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Other Guys

When it comes to current comedic stars, I don't know if there's one that splits audiences so much as Will Ferrell does. Critics say he plays basically the same character in every movie, and to be fair it's not that far from the truth.  But it's a good character, typically a very funny one.  His movies have been hit or miss the last few years with some successes like Step Brothers and bombs like Land of the Lost.  I'm in the 'like' group so I'll basically see anything he's in.  Chugging along at the box office, The Other Guys is a bit of a departure for Ferrell, but in a good way.

It comes from one of the more reliable sub-genres you'll find in movies, the buddy cop movie.  Put two opposites together and let the fireworks begin.  The biggest selling point of 'Other' is that Ferrell doesn't play his typical dolt, and co-star Mark Wahlberg completely commits to being the straight man and gets a ton of laughs in the process. Is it particularly original? Not especially, but through all the cliches this buddy cop venture is funny from beginning to end.  And always important in a comedy, it's quotable with too many good lines to even mention.

In a New York Police Department precinct, unlikely detective partners Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) are in the shadow of other detectives all over the force.  Allen revels in routine and sticking around the office doing paperwork while Terry after an incident with an accidental shooting feels cooped up with nowhere to go.  Almost by accident, Allen and Terry stumble into a major case no one else seems interested in.  A mega-millionaire (Steve Coogan) is in trouble with his clients for losing billions of dollars in a shady business deal (think Madoff).  No one seems to believe these two cops no matter what they say, and it doesn't help that their bumbling technique often gets them in more trouble than necessary.  But something doesn't seem right as Gamble and Hoitz get deeper into the case.

Best starting point is Ferrell and Wahlberg who together have this great chemistry that produces some of the movie's biggest laughs.  Neither of them is hamming for the camera, just letting the lines and the delivery do all the work necessary.  Ferrell in comedies and Wahlberg typically in dramas are both talented guys and play well off each other.  Ferrell's Gamble has a "dark" past that has heavily influenced the way he acts, fearful of what might come out if he resorts to his old ways.  Wahlberg's Hoitz was involved in an accidental shooting (maybe the biggest, funniest surprise of the movie) and is still dealing with the repercussions.  So it's a good start in a comedy, the history is played for laughs as it rightfully should, but we actually get to see some of these two knuckleheads and their past.

Now on the other hand, they're just funny together.  Ferrell is clueless in a kind of adorable ignorance way as opposed to his usually oblivious moron who doesn't realize he's an oblivious moron.  Some of his line deliveries are beyond perfect, including one epic comeback to a threat from Wahlberg that goes on and on, getting better all the way.  Wahlberg was already one of my favorite actors and an ideal choice to play alongside Ferrell's toned down antics.  He's intense, on the edge, a little crazy as this great cop who made one mistake and is still paying for it.  Of course, he realizes this and lashes out -- in a funny way -- at everyone around him.  He sees things that he wishes were there (watch out! Colombian drug lords!) and ends up leaving a very positive impression by the end.

Director Adam McKay has a knack for getting the best out of his supporting cast, including a few surprises here and there. Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson are phenomenal in small parts as two super cops who are the pride of the NYPD. Michael Keaton plays Captain Gene, the captain of the precinct, a part incredibly subtle in its humor with one great running gag about him unknowingly quoting TLC songs as motivation/inspiration. Eva Mendes looking as beautiful as ever shows off her comedic chops as Sheila, Allen's smoking hot wife, and Coogan in an underused part as the slimy businessman up the creek and looking for cash.  Ray Stevenson plays the resident bad guy, necessary to look tough every so often. There's some great cameos, including one so perfect I can't ruin it, but NY Yankees fans shouldn't be disappointed.

Reviewing all sorts of movies here, it's nice every so often to just review a movie that's funny non-stop and entertaining with no higher pretensions.  The story just drifts along at times before focusing back on the important elements.  The action toward the end is ridiculous and over the top, the soundtrack sounds like a bad 1980s soundtrack, and there's just enough of a new spin on the buddy cop relationship to keep you guessing what's coming next.  Really though, check this one out for Ferrell and Wahlberg, a nearly perfect comedic team.

The Other Guys <---trailer (2010): ***/****     

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