The Other Guys (PG-13)
Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown
Reeling himself back in from the career crash-zone territory of last year's Land of the Lost, Will Ferrell returns to more familiar stomping grounds in this fourth comedy re-pairing with director Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers). Again, Ferrell plays a big boob, although his Detective Allen Gamble in The Other Guys is not as clueless or as extreme a doofus as in these previous movies.
Gamble is a New York Police Department forensic accountant who loves his desk job. His resentful partner Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) has been reassigned to desk duty following an embarrassing incident that not only wounded his pride but also left him with a stinging sobriquet: the Yankee Clipper.
Taking on the challenge of playing straight man to Ferrell's flights of fancy, Wahlberg not only rises to the task but also embellishes his character with some choice comic bits of his own. This is not the textbook type of cop Wahlberg portrayed in either 2006's The Departed or 2007's We Own the Night. Nor is he simply playing comic relief with drop-dead abs as he did recently in Date Night.
Here, he actually has that puffy, doughnutty cop look down pat. And when he wails about being a peacock who needs to be let loose to fly, we recognize him as a full-fledged partner in Farrell's zaniness rather than a mere sidekick.
The Other Guys opens strongly and front-loads its best gags into the first third of the film. After that, the jokes begin to repeat themselves and the plot, unfortunately, becomes mired in unintelligible details of the white-collar crime that Gamble and Hoitz are investigating. Lots of stuff crashes and blows up, leaving Michael Keaton, as the precinct captain, plenty to rail about.
Also providing solid support are Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne (formerly "The Rock") Johnson as the station's top cops, who only appear in the film's opening sequences and whose ridiculous glory everyone seeks to emulate. There's also Rob Riggle (Killers, The Hangover) and Damon Wayans Jr. (Marmaduke, Dance Flick) as another pair of department go-getters.
With a script written by McKay and Chris Henchy, Ferrell's partners in the online comedy clearinghouse funnyordie.com, The Other Guys adopts that website's overall tone of political discontent in its use of corporate criminals as comic punching bags. (Ferrell's impersonations of George W. Bush helped popularize the website, along with political-campaign video spoofs and digs at the economic crisis.) This film is never more pointed than at the end of its 107 minutes, when in its closing credits, the filmmakers offer a visually snazzy onslaught of statistics about economic disparity in the U.S. between the ultra-wealthy and the average Joes, which kicks off with accompanying music by Rage Against the Machine.
The Other Guys isn't likely to be top dog at the station house or the box office, but it'll be serviceable in a pinch.