The Adam McKay/Will Ferrell collaboration collective kick up a gear in this all-action parody that pays as much attention to its (excessively) explosive special effects as it does to the comedy core on which the whole film is based.
Even the concept is funny: a film set within the confines of a crazy, over the top action bonanza, but instead of following the smash-happy supercops the story trails two of ‘the other guys’, those pen-pushing desk jockeys that mill around in the background of the police station as the Bruce Willis’s and Mel Gibsons take down international drug dealers and mafia crime lords.
The first 30 minutes of the film, where this concept is really milked to the max, easily makes for some of the funniest comedy of the year. Mark Wahlberg is spot on as Terry Hoitz, a frustrated cop who was taken off the streets and into the back offices after a high profile mistake made him the laughing stock of the force. His foible is Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell), a man who seems to be born for paperwork. Their odd couple combo leads to some fantastic banter in which Ferrell’s sharp, surreal spiel (‘I will march an army of Tuna with special breathing apparatus, and I will take down your lion’) brings a perfect counterpoint to Hoitz, as Wahlberg plays an exaggerated version of his usual angry, confused and frustrated roles.
These great dialogue scenes are punctuated, or rather brutally punctured, by some superb action parody from the resident supercops P.K.Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson). The pair plough police cars into buses, which they use to continue their crazy chase, they wow reporters with their brash wit and big biceps, and they, all of sudden, implode under the weight of their own greatness in a scene that made me laugh so much my sides hurt.
But once their scenes are done, the plot takes a slight sidestep into the realm of a more typical cop/buddy movie format as Hoitz and Gamble, let very much by Hoitz’ desire to prove himself as a ‘real’ cop, go about trying to solve a big case and become the next supercops.
That’s not to say that the buddy movie doesn’t provide some fertile ground for continued comedy mishaps, because it does. Gamble has some hidden secrets about his past that lead to a few moments of mild amusements, and their initial bungled attempts to solve an apparent fraud case involving bigwig investor David Ershon (Steve Coogan) have some great parody elements, including the “I thought you said ‘bad cop, bad cop’ moment from the trailers”.
What’s more, the careful attention paid to the bombastic action sequences ensures that when the film does lurch toward the conventional, it always looks great. I’d even venture to say that there are a fair few battles and explosions that rival the The Expendables in terms of its sheer, uninhibited excesses.
But it still remains that ‘The Other Guys’ very much uses up the bulk of its ammo in the first 45 minutes, and though the rest of the film make for great viewing pleasure, it never becomes the instant comedy classic that the heady beginnings suggested it could be.
The Other Guys is released in the U.K. today.