OTHER GUYS, THE
NYPD Detectives Christopher Danson and P.K. Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) are the baddest and most famous and flamboyant cops in New York City, bagging the headlines as well as the crooks. Two desks over and one back, sit Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). They're seen in the background of photos of Danson and Highsmith, out of focus and eyes closed. They're not heroes - they're "the other guys." But when Gamble and Hoitz stumble into a seemingly innocuous case no other detective wants to touch, it could turn into New York City's biggest crime. It's the opportunity of their lives - maybe.
Review by Louise Keller:
The lunacy makes it fly but much of the comedy in this buddy-cop Will Ferrell pairing with Mark Wahlberg simply floats along. The problem is stretching this sketch-like concept out into a full length film and that's where it struggles. Director Adam Mackay knows Ferrell's work well, having written and directed him in Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. Here the best part is the unlikely pairing of Ferrell and Wahlberg. There are mild laughs and some off the wall ideas, but it outstays its welcome with its ungrounded storyline and lack of cohesion.
The setting is New York in autumn, when Central Park turns on a kaleidoscope of warm, beautifully graduated colours. But there's nothing warm or beautiful about the relationship between Ferrell's deskbound, security-seeking accountant with the obviously contrary name of Allen Gamble and Wahlberg's eager-beaver street crime solver Terry Hoitz. Like a clothes hoist, Hoitz lives his life in a spin, rejected by his girlfriend and sidelined at work. These are the background boys; those who never get caught up in the real action or reap the credit. My favourite scene is when Gamble takes Hoitz home to meet his wife. (The way she is described, we are expecting a dragon.) The expression on Wahlberg's puppy-dog face, when he sees stunning, shapely Eva Mendes, dressed to kill, is classic ('Why are you with Allen?' he mutters). I also liked the wackiness of the bad cop / good cop routine, which turns into a bad cop / even badder cop routine with predictable outcomes.
Ferrell fans will enjoy the ride in which we see the fine line that exists between law and chaos. (The opening sequence with Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson in which cars leap through buses and buildings, set the scene and is sadly too short.) Steve Coogan is terrific as David Ershon, the crooked banker who offers bribes and Michael Keaton goes the whole mile as the police captain who gives Gamble a wooden gun. There's a running gag involving Gamble's shiny brand new red Toyota Prius, which is trashed with cocaine, has its door ripped off, runs over a body at a crime scene, gets bullet holes pummelled into it, becomes a target at a golfing range and more. The comedy with nonsensical bite tries a bit too hard and as a result never quite reaches the heights to which it aspires.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In the reams of paper written about and the hours of TV and cinema made about police work, especially NYPD, there has not ever been one about 'the other guys' before - those guys in the background, the paper pushers and the number crunchers. They are heroes, too, in the fight against crime. And especially so if they're played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, to actors who can deadpan comedy until the cows come home.
The opening gambit is an over the top sequence with the action heroes of NYPD, played by the butchest of guys, Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. They track down a small time hash dealer while destroying $12 million worth of New York property and vehicles. It's a smashing start, but the impetus soon slows. The whole film is like that, dreary quarter hours strung together by a few fun minutes.
But Walhberg and Ferrell can be funny as a team, Wahlberg working beautifully as Terry Hoitz the hardass cop whose love life is in freefall; Ferrell also does well as Allen Gamble the bespectacled, mild mannered accountant - with a dark side deep down. He is nonchalantly married to Sheila (Eva Mendes), to Terry's utter disbelief - and envy. Mendes is outstanding and manages to balance the humour with a perfectly pitched naturalist performance.
Michael Keaton is also excellent as the harassed police captain with a second job and Steve Coogan does a great job as Ershon the corporate shark with a few billion sloshing about for his sleazy rich Chechan and Nigerian clients. This element of the screenplay - the evils of untamed corporate America - is part of the editorial message in the script, highlighted at the end credits. But it doesn't really play in the film, which jumbles up it's main themes with careless abandon. That wouldn't matter if it were really hilarious, of course.
The laughs are intermittent but when they come they're satisfying. A whole lot more would be great.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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OTHER GUYS, THE (M)
CAST: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Samuel L.Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, Adam McKay
PRODUCER: Patrick Crowley, Jimmy Miller
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
SCRIPT: Adam McKay, Chris Henchey
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood
EDITOR: Brent White
MUSIC: John Brion
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clayton Hartley
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 9, 2010