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Will Ferrell is a comedian creating his own genre.  His all-too convincing portrayals of hilarious lummoxes have become his signature and no other actor today does it quite as successfully.  It’s gotten so he can place these dunces into any comedy screenplay and make it work, even in a premise as outwardly scant as that of cop movie spoof, The Other Guys.  However for all Ferrell’s unmistakable input, The Other Guys has its own appeal; namely in a bawdy, silly script that’s laced with an urbane sharpness that keeps it hip and surprisingly funny, and an up-for-anything cast that’s having as much fun as their audience.

In a guns and blazes opening sequence Jerry Bruckheimer would envy, we’re introduced to New York’s bravest and boldest; Highsmith and Danson, two super detectives who are precisely the stuff of 1980’s cop action films with inflated egos to match their heedless heroism.  Everyone in their squad has to be content to bask in their glory even if that means doing their paperwork; an arrangement that works out just fine for Detective Allen Gamble, a forensics accountant moved up to the big leagues and given a gold badge.  He is overjoyed to stay as far from the action as possible and carefully fill out forms.  This is not the case for his partner, Detective Terry Hoitz, who’s been chained to his desk and christened the Yankee Clipper since an unfortunate incident at the Bronx baseball stadium involving a bat, a gun, and a certain player’s failure to identify himself.  When one act of fearlessness goes a bit too far, the entire precinct has the opportunity to grab the spotlight as the next Highsmith and Danson, and Hoitz knows replacing the legendary officers on a big name case is the only thing that might erase the stain of his infamy.  The trouble is his booksmart partner has no desire at all to leave the safety of his desk.  Not letting a little thing like free will get in the way, Hoitz proceeds to humiliate, cajole and finally threaten Gamble’s life to join him on cases the two have no business pursuing.  As to be expected of a cop who’s never been out of the precinct, carries a wooden gun and drives a Prius; Gamble is severely unprepared for anything deadlier than a crossing guard assignment and every mission the two undertake goes wrong.  These are not the guys to foil some convoluted crime full of international financial espionage, kidnapping and murder … or are they?

Don’t even ask about the plot; it’s a classic MacGuffin that will only spoil the fun if you think about it too long.  The Other Guys is a send-up of classic testosterone-driven police actioners like Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys, crossed with a Zucker Brothers off-the-wall zaniness.  Gamble’s inexplicable magnetism wins him the affection of all the ladies, including his drop-dead gorgeous devoted wife, but he’s somehow oblivious to their physical charms.  At the same time, baffled by his irritating partner’s array of present and former hotties, Hoitz makes plans in case Gamble accidentally croaks during their mission to provide all the care and comfort his grieving spouse, played by Eva Mendes, will need.  A powder keg of frustration in every aspect of his life, Hoitz can’t calm his rampant jealousy of his ex-love (- even demonstrating his ardour at her ballet class) and can’t walk two feet in New York City without someone reminding him he’s the guy whose case of mistaken identity cost the Yankees a World Series championship.  “You shoulda shot A-Rod!” one irate fan yells.  Writers Chris Henchy and Adam McKay (McKay also directed) are canny and perverse enough to include a scene where Gamble is once again being persuaded at gunpoint by Hoitz, who reminds his partner that he’s the guy who let bullets fly at Yankee Stadium.  Gamble: “That was an accident.” “Was it?” Hoitz, played by famous Bostonian Mark Wahlberg replies.  There is much topical pop culture referencing throughout to varying effect:  Michael Keaton as the squad’s mellow captain doles out nuggets of Zen-like wisdom to his officers that sound suspiciously like lyrics from the hip-hop band, TLC.  Steve Coogan is a BP-arrogant British investment banker (“Live for excess, it’s the American way!”) playing fast and loose with his clients’ fortunes Bernie Madoff-style while incurring debts to various international juntas and dictatorships.  Damon Wayans, Jr. as a rival detective competing for the top dog slot advises a group of grade schoolers that the best way to avoid jail is to “Try your hardest not to be black or Hispanic.”  There are scenes thrown in with only a loose connection to the plot, but suit the general frivolity; like Gamble’s reunion with a rather needy ex and her extremely supportive husband, also a raucous sequence where Gamble’s elderly mother-in-law reluctantly passes increasingly raunchy messages of love between the detective in hiding and his worried spouse.  Wahlberg is fine as Hoitz, the gung-ho (No Michael Keaton pun intended) cop that wants only to redeem himself (- and marry Gamble’s wife), playing the straight man to Will Ferrell’s stream-of-consciousness buffoonery.  A wacky subplot reveals that Gamble’s fear of coming out from behind his desk stems from his misspent college years as a gold-fronted pimp with violent tendencies.  In one of the film’s funniest moments, we see that old habits aren’t far from Gamble’s milquetoast surface when a good cop/bad cop scenario suffers from a slight misunderstanding.

The Other Guys is a goof; a happily disposable yukfest that never pretends to be other than that, yet manages to surprise in the sharpness of its script and in the fun all involved are clearly having.  Besides Ferrell, Wahlberg, Mendes, Coogan and Keaton; Dwayne ‘I’m not The Rock, anymore.’ Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson make explosive cameos as the thrill seeking super cops.  Anne Heche has a bit part as a wronged client of the naughty Brit.  Rosie Perez and Brooke Shields (Super hot wife of the film’s other writer, Chris Henchy) and the cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys all serve to try to lure the two good cops off the track of the bad guys.  The New York locations are also nicely used, like Highsmith and Dodson’s Mustang’s flaming flight into Trump Tower and a lunch break at the landmark Nathan’s restaurant in Coney Island.  Even seeing the same two blocks near my neighborhood go by Gamble’s Prius’ window three times in the same one-minute scene can be chalked up to the freewheeling, unapologetic nuttiness all around this often hilarious trifle.  The Other Guys is good fun in an otherwise dreary summer.  Go laugh.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

Aug. 6th, 2010




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(Courtesy of  Sony Pictures)





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