Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Eva Mendes
Watch The Other Guys online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
If you don’t like Will, you won’t like this – that’s pretty much the standard for all of Ferrell’s comedies. Here, he’s back with writer-director Adam McKay, the man responsible for Anchorman and the amusing Talladega Nights. The Other Guys may not be on a par with the legend of Ron Burgundy, but it still breaks out the hilarity in pretty constant doses.
The main reason for that is the choice of casting: putting Ferrell into straight-man shoes as Allen Gamble, a desk-based copper with a taste for paperwork, McKay looks to Mark Wahlberg’s Terry Hoitz to tear up the place. And he does, usually with good results.
It opens with a decent action spoof, as Samuel L Jackson and Dwayne Johnson play the super-star cops who blow up the city and then take all the credit. But when the pair take themselves out of the picture, the focus shifts to the titular Other Guys, who annoy Captain Gene Mauch (Keaton) not because they’re mavericks, but because they’re simply annoying. Incompetent and enthusiastic, Allen is the kind of man who drives a Toyota Prius. He shoot holes in the office, carries a wooden gun, and spends his time arguing with Terry over who would win in a fight between a lion and a tuna.
It’s completely by accident that they stumble onto slippery businessman David Ershon (a slightly wasted Steve Coogan), whose criminal empire seems to be powered by an endless supply of Broadway show tickets. Unsure whether to keep the plot complex or reduce it to a string of gags, The Other Guys ends up sloppy with its script – we don’t what the Brit banker’s crimes are, we just know that his financial dealings are Bad. Is it meant to be a satirical comment on corporate corruption? The completely out-of-place end credits make you suspect that McKay’s still not sure.
Thank goodness, then, for the supporting cast, who deliver laughs for a fair percentage of the runtime. Some jokes are stale, but Michael Keaton’s balding chief is wonderfully world-weary. Eva Mendes, too, turns up as Allen’s inexplicably hot wife and is admirably unafraid of nutty improv. But the best moments belong to Wahlberg, whose unhinged malcontent proves that I Heart Huckabees and The Departed really were the start of something special – a silent punch-up at a funeral is one of the funniest things you’ll see his year.
When Ferrell breaks out of his straight man persona, the partnership loses that carefully balanced chemistry, but Wahlberg covers the blips when Will won’t restrain himself. If the film were more disciplined this could have been a classic. Instead, The Other Guys remains mildly hilarious, which still puts it way above many other police comedies.
The Other Guys is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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