I’ll speak for the male population when I say that most of us wanted to become enforcers of the law at least once in our lives. It just seems like a rite of passage for a young man to dream of the loaded gun, the badge that shines ominously in the sunlight, the badass-looking sunglasses, the elevated sense of authority, and, of course, the incredible sense of machismo.
I know that I, as a young lad, certainly dreamed of kicking down doors, gun-fights, and high-speed chases. Of course, as time passed, most of us matured and came to the conclusion that being a cop just isn’t what it’s cracked out to be: the mediocre wages, the long hours, the paperwork and the fact that we probably wouldn’t be living out scenes from “Die Hard” (I considered this one the most heartbreaking). Reality is truly a pain sometimes.
But the imagery originated from somewhere and that somewhere just happened to be your local theater, where oodles of overly-masculine men, tremendous explosions, and high-caliber firearms slowly started to rot your brain and your perception of the hard, cold truth. But before I get too melodramatic, let me introduce Adam McKay’s latest project, “The Other Guys,” which stars Will Ferrell (in yet another collaboration with the director), Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes and Michael Keaton, and which promised to be a valiant attempt at capturing the silliness and implausible of the buddy-cop sub-genre through satire. Sadly, “The Other Guys,” though clearly a modest effect, fails to maintain laughs for long and thus remains not nearly as memorable as the classics it mocks.
In the film, Ferrell plays Allen Gamble, a desk-bound detective who is just irresistible to women. But if one were to break down Gamble’s character into its purest form, it’s really simple to see that this is just another Ferrell role, in which he plays the towering idiot who is oblivious to his surroundings. But McKay acknowledges the fact and thus tries to utilize his stupidity in the form of low-brow humor. McKay, who also co-wrote the screenplay along with Chris Henchy, then tries to introduce Dr. Sheila Gamble, played by Mendes, and who purposely lacks any sense of personality as a bouncing board for both Ferrell and Wahlberg, who plays Gamble’s hot-headed partner Terry Hoitz. But that too fails because like most of the jokes in the film, Allen’s disrespect for his wife just gets recycled continuously and so does the “comedic” crush that Hoitz develops for Mrs. Gamble.
Now Wahlberg is simply loathsome as Hoitz. There is no sugar-coating or denying it. His ill-tempered attitude may work for the first portion of “The Other Guys,” but it simply becomes too bothersome as the film progresses. There is no character development and McKay just presents the character as the really violent counterpart to Gamble’s stupidity. On top of that, the entire romantic sub-plot between Terry and his ex-wife is just superfluous and hard to care about because there is absolutely no chemistry between the two characters.
But “The Other Guys” does have a couple of shining moments. Namely, the entire first act maintains a sense of over-the-top humor and competent action sequences and it seems that the screenwriter’s choice to start the film by introducing to us Jackson and Johnson’s characters, Detectives Highbridge and Danson, was to whimsically trigger fond memories when we dreamed of becoming such super-cops, for even though they cause the city millions in damage for a petty marijuana charge, Highbridge and Danson are considered New York City’s heroes. Soon, however, it’s up to detective Hoitz and his partner to take up the prestigious spot and thus relinquish their roles as “the other guys” in the police precinct and they do so, by investigating a series of financial discrepancies, which lead up to be part of one of the largest crime schemes in New York City history.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning Michael Keaton’s character, Captain Gene Mauch, the all-too-nice boss who just happens to have another job at “Bed, Bath, and Beyond” in order to support his family. I’m not mentioning Keaton because his performance was excellent, in fact, it was extremely bland and I’m not sure if they made Gene such a push-over for satiric reasons and if it was just poor scripting, but I’m bringing him up just because he was Batman and that in and of itself deserves some mention. Sadly, his acting talents have withered since he donned the glorious black suit.
Though “The Other Guys” deserves respect for being better than Kevin Smith’s “Cop Out” at making fun of the alcoholism, the slow-motion shoot-outs (though I’ve never seen such a scene done with The White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” playing in the background), and the perfectly-timed explosions of cop films, it still remains subpar. However, it does remain a fairly interesting movie-going experience, but I would advise all potential audience members to not pursue it.
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