From Old School to Elf to Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and even Land of the Lost (I think I might be one of a handful who actually enjoyed this movie), Will Ferrell has proven to be one of the funniest actors of the last decade. Mark Walhberg is in the same boat talent-wise. He’s no Oscar winner (literally), but he’s capable and solid, especially in The Departed, Three Kings and Boogie Nights. You’d think with these two headlining The Other Guys, a buddy-buddy-cop movie comedy, I would have been chomping at the bit to plant my derrière in an air conditioned multiplex seat, especially where funnyman director/writer Adam McKay (Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, Anchorman) is at the helm. But I wasn’t. The trailers and TV spots were uninspiring and the comedy showcased therein seemed beyond recycled. I literally had to drag myself to the press screening.
Boy howdy, I’m glad I did! The Other Guys is the funniest movie of the summer. I went in expecting yawns and anguish, but I came out smiling and pleased. The Other Guys is funny from start to finish and its humor isn’t constructed on the flimsy and unstable foundation of physical comedy, but rather on the oddball characters and sharp writing Ferrell and McKay fans have come to know from their work together on the aforementioned Talladega Nights and Anchorman.
Set in New York City, the film’s narrator, an un-credited Ice-T, introduces us to Detectives Highsmith and Danson (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson), two slick, action-loving cops who are the toast of the town and almost as beloved as the Yankees amongst New Yorkers. The City that Never Sleeps is dealt a crushing blow when these two men are killed in the line of duty (something I did not see coming and an absolutely hilarious ode to Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid), but their fellow officers aren’t so brokenhearted and start jostling to take Highsmith and Danson’s spots as celebrity cops.
Enter Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) and Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell). Both are desk jockeys, but only one enjoys the paperwork. They are partners, but are absolutely nothing alike. Gamble works the desk because he promised his wife (Eva Mendes) he’d stay safe, and Hoitz works the desk because all of NYC hates his guts for accidentally shooting Derek Jeter and costing the Yanks the World Series. Allen is the peaceful, calm, kindhearted doofus of the bunch – listening to Little River Band and driving a Toyota Prius, while Terry is the angry, ready-to-blow hothead, constantly insulting Allen’s abilities and masculinity, telling him he doesn’t even pee like a man. They are led by Captain Gene March (Michael Keaton) who, in a sign of the economic downturn, must also work at Bed Bath & Beyond to put his bi-sexual artist son through college. However, when the duo begins investigating the financial dealings of David Ershon (Steve Coogan), they discover crimes that could promote them from the laughing stock of the department to New York’s new heroes.
Aside from Inception and Salt, I’d have to say The Other Guys is easily my next favorite movie of the summer and easily one of the funniest films of the year. It’s fast paced and even the craziest, most outlandish tangents the film takes don’t cause enough of a slowdown to induce boredom. I laughed from start to finish and would easily pay the full-price ticket for this PG-13 rib-tickler.