Review: Ferrell/Wahlberg's The Other Guys is Furiously Funny
by Jeremy Kirk
August 10, 2010
The Other Guys starts with an explosive car chase. Two New York hero cops are chasing bad guys. What did they do? It doesn't matter. Just know the cops involved are the cream of the crop. Dwayne Johnson is on the roof of the car being driven by the bad guys. Samuel Jackson is driving a Chevelle closely behind. Bullets are flying. The banter is quick. When the explosions occur, they are wild and slick and right out of the best scenes Michael Bay has to offer. This is where the action peaks in The Other Guys, but, just as the film isn't about Johnson and Jackson's characters, it's also not about the explosions and gun fights. The Other Guys is about comedy, and, when it starts, regardless of the surrounding action, it is intensive enough on its own.
Shortly after the opening scene, an event, one best left unspoiled, takes our hero cops out of action for good. The city needs a new pair of heroes, and the captain, played by Michael Keaton, looks to the other men in his department to step up. Enter Detectives Gamble and Hoitz, played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, respectively. They are partners. They don't get along. They work the desk and fill out the paperwork the aforementioned hero cops don't want to and don't have to fill out. Gamble is fine with this, but Hoitz, who has recently been dropped to a desk job after a shooting gone wrong (enter genius cameo here), wants to get back into the field. After forcing Gamble into the fieldwork side of being a detective (at gunpoint, no less), the two begin an investigation that could lead them to hero-level success or absolute failure. Let's just say the latter, in any case, is much funnier.
Adam McKay, who had a hand in making Ferrell the king of current cinematic comedy with Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers, hits the comedy in The Other Guys with the same ferocity we've become accustomed to. The jokes, whether they're from Ferrell or Wahlberg, fly often and hard. Whether it's jokes about the Prius Gamble drives or the wooden gun the captain forces him to carry or about Hoitz screaming out how he's a peacock who just wants to fly out of his office cage or flashbacks to Gamble's more illicit days in college, the comedy never lets up and it rarely misfires.
When you're dealing with a comedy, one as broad as anything Will Ferrell has ever done, it's best to go with the law of averages and dish it out as frequently as possible. That way, when one doesn't work, you've already got the next one lined up in the chamber to fire out before the audience even realizes they aren't laughing at the first one. The problem when a comedy hits with the percentile of something like The Other Guys is you miss a lot from laughing at a previous joke. It's a good problem to have, and it's definitely one found here.
What should be noted about The Other Guys, one of the only downsides to the film's comedy, really, is in some of the structuring. A psycho ex-girlfriend subplot gets dropped almost as quickly as it begins. The idea of Hoitz's background on his computer is ever-changing is only presented once or twice. Even Keaton's Captain Mauch and the idea that he is always quoting TLC songs never culminates or pays off. It just comes up here and there and moves on. In the course of adapting from screenplay to film, it almost feels like some subplots are never allowed to develop as much as they probably should have. These are jokes on a completely subsidiary level, nothing that has to be at the forefront of the film, so this issue is quite inconsequential. However, it is hard to pass on the idea that more could have been done with some of what they had.
The same goes for what passes as the film's main plot, that of Gamble and Hoitz investigating a ponzi scheme run by Steve Coogan's smarmy businessman and the heavily armed mercs chasing after him led by Ray Stevenson. It's a catalyst for the action and the film as a whole, really, but it never feels like it's firing on nearly as many cylinders as the comedy. When the main course of your film is only serving as window-dressing for the comedy, you better make sure that comedy never falters. Luckily, McKay and crew never allow that to happen.
What is anything but inconsequential is the chemistry between Wahlberg and Ferrell. Without it, the film, whether it is going for the homage to the buddy cop films of the '80s and '90s or something broader, simply wouldn't work. The two are brilliant together just as much as they are by themselves. The banter between them, though never quite as witty as anything Shane Black has included in the buddy cop films he has written, pings back and forth with hilarious speed and accuracy.
Wahlberg, who seems to have carried his anger and cynicism over from his Sgt. Dignam role in The Departed, plays it completely straight save for a few dance moves he throws in here and there. This type of straight-faced delivery is perfect when you're allowed to laugh at it, and Wahlberg never feels out of his element. The same can't be said for Ferrell who doesn't cross to the action as well as his partner crosses to the comedy. Like I said, though, the film isn't really about the action, so you forgive Ferrell's inability to be seen as an action star when he's wearing gold teeth and talking about “his bitches.”
The Other Guys is furiously funny, a comedy that plows through its jokes like an out of control freight train with a pair of stars that come off like Abbott and Costello with 9MMs. McKay, Ferrell, and Wahlberg all have a hand in dominating the comedy here. When you have laughs flying this hard and fast, who needs bullets?
Jeremy's Rating: 8 out of 10
L1A on Aug 10, 2010
I really didn't think 'The Other Guys' was that funny. I prefer comedy that doesn't dumb itself down like that found in 'The Kids Are All Right'.
Alex C. on Aug 10, 2010
were you high? you were high wernt you
DoomCanoe on Aug 10, 2010
Well if its anything like Anchorman I'm in.
Xerxex on Aug 10, 2010
Will Ferrell is so stupid in his roles (in a good way) , he makes my sides hurt in laughter.....gonna see it!
McWilly on Aug 10, 2010
I went in with an open mind but just didn't find it that funny. Got a few chuckles and was amused at times, but I thought other jokes (ie. the whole peacock thing) fell flat and were a retread of territory we've all seen a million times. Like a lot of people, Anchorman is one of my favorite comedies in a long time but there were moments in this movie where I got really tired of Will Ferrell. That's not to say it was all bad. Plus, the ending credits sequence was pretty brilliant.
JT on Aug 10, 2010
i liked it, but not like everyone else's reasons, the fact that Mark does every reaction that we all would when meeting Will is priceless....
Jericho on Aug 10, 2010
Really?! An 8 out of 10. This movie hardly warranted a score that high. I saw this Friday evening and thought it a maximum score of 6. It lacked any of the raunch factor that Step Bros had and almost all of the jokes fell flat. Wahlberg was yet again nothing more than an upturned eyebrow and Will Ferrell yet again proved that acting like a manchild for 90 minutes does nothing to guarantee hilarity. Repeatedly asking a question (making the situation more awkward) is not funny. The highlight of the film was the interaction between the Rock and Sam Jackson. If the whole movie featured them instead I would have liked it a lot more.
David on Aug 10, 2010
I thought it was funny enough and poked enough fun at how stupid buddy cop films are.
Crapola on Aug 10, 2010
Do you guys just not laugh in your lives? at all? or do the only things you find funny are political jokes? Every comedy movie that comes out you guys rip apart because it doesn't make your face fall off. Just sit back and laugh, its not hard.
nighthawk 352 on Aug 10, 2010
@8 Since it doesnt have the raunch factor, I might actually see it. Step Brothers was awful cause of the raunch factor. I guess if you like immature crap then its good
Hale18 on Aug 10, 2010
Hale18 that's a little unfair, are you saying that if one enjoyed Step Brothers they are immature? If so that's a bold statement.
Xerxex on Aug 10, 2010
some people aren't into "raunch".........but watching movies with this in it doesn't make a person "immature". i'm a 46 year old professional and still enjoy animated movies like "planet 51" - does that make me immature?.......i don't think so. BTW - i thought stepbrothers was over-rated.......it had a lot of hype due to ferrell teaming with reilly and i didn't think it lived up to it (hype).
beavis on Aug 11, 2010
i loved it. it had that uncomfortable odd feeling, over and over again. it made me lol, and i think thats what it was supposed to do. i loved the shark. foreshadowing w/ desktop backgrounds could be a new literary visual element. i guess i fall into a different category than # 8. although he is completely right i would love to watch a whole movie of sam jackson and dewayne johnson being these characters.
mgazo on Aug 11, 2010
@11 I think Step Bros was a polarizing movie for Ferrell fans because it was a complete raunchfest. I loved it because it was a no holds bar comedy that went straight for the throat. I mean adults beating the living shit out of kids was hilarious, Ferrell "singing" at the end, and the nut sack on the drum kit was priceless. Not to mention the singing car ride, the horny wife, and the boat music video. There is a time and a place for everything and comedies are no exception. What I meant in regards to comparing The Other Guys to Step Bros raunch factor was what I stated above. Step Bros pulled no punches and came out better for it. The Other Guys was just a bad movie. No raunch, no vulgarity, no swearing, all hallmarks of Ferrell's better works. I can find humor in comedies that don't result in raunchiness, I love Shaun of the Dead, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and The 40 Year Old Virgin and they didn't rely on raunchiness to be funny. Speaking of Shaun of the Dead, Edgar Wright lampooned buddy cop films definitively in Hot Fuzz.
David on Aug 11, 2010
While it did have its funny moments, for sure, it wasn't as funny as I thought it'd be. Feel free to read my full review here: http://www.k-rated.com/2010/08/other-guys-review.html
Kristen on Aug 11, 2010
I already saw it last monday and they damn well deserved nothing than a B+ or higher
Bizy Though on Aug 18, 2010
Not so funny as what I expect but they played it very well and that how it makes the movie so popular.
Trag Lee on Aug 19, 2010
It was a great movie and I would have Jeter too.
that guy on Aug 27, 2010
Saw it, laughed my butt off, want a sequel. The end.
Genn on Aug 30, 2010
Hmm.... Actually wasn't very funny. The story sucked (not that it usually matters, just sayin'). Does not deserve such high acclaim. I think Anchorman was funnier and hell, I don't even like Will Ferrell that much.
Chris on Sep 29, 2010
I laughed once at the beginning when the cops died. After that there was not one funny scene. Just 90 minutes of boredom. And this from someone who loves adam sandler monty python and snl. Basically they took every joke you hear in grade school and stretched it out into a long boring movie.
bob on Nov 12, 2010
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