The Other Guys

Rating: ★★★½☆

Only in a film by Adam McKay will you see scenes involving cubicle flute-playing, willful self-stabbing, and testicle drum-rubbing portrayed with such passion. And only a man named Will Ferrell will do all these acts just because he can. The Other Guys succeeds in further extending McKay’s and Ferrell’s track record for being the most haphazardly ambitious comedians in Hollywood.

A quarter pound of illegal drugs needs to be recovered, and twelve million dollars worth of property damage later, they are recovered. No thanks are due to New York City’s cockiest detectives Danson and Highsmith, who are uproariously played by Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. But they are not what this movie is about. Living beneath, far beneath their shadows are Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz.

Danson’s and Highsmith’s spotlight are later emptied for reasons I shall not discuss, and Terry notices that vacant spotlight and desires to fill it at the first opportunity that he can. But he can’t do it alone, and must first convince Allen to go with him in the field and prove themselves worthy of more than mere paperwork at a desk. Oh, but Allen has different, less dangerous goals than Terry, which inspires some exchange of words, a few dozen fights, and a couple of felonies if I’m not mistaken.

The amount of arguments in “The Other Guys” is similar to that of McKay’s previous film, “Step Brothers”. But here, the fights are less offensive, has less testicles, has more substance, and, dare I say it, has more maturity. Unlike “Step Brothers”, much of the comedy in “The Other Guys” is drawn from how one reacts to the actions or words of the other, and how that reaction leads up to that character’s impending action. A good example of this is a scene where Terry tells Allen how much he hates him. The comedy is not from Terry’s speech of hatred, but by the unexpected counter-speech from Allen.

Allen and Terry are played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who do great jobs at being pissed and pissing the other off. Ferrell is a veteran at this; that is why I’m giving out extra props for Wahlberg, whose moments with Ferrell cause some of the funniest moments of 2010. It is rather regrettable that the final half hour focuses on the plot, which causes a decline in laughs. In a movie like this, thirty minutes worth of plot is twenty minutes too many.

Where the plot is absent the most is when “The Other” Guys is at its funniest, which is its first half hour. Imagine how much funnier this movie could have been if it kept Danson and Highsmith. Imagine if a full pound of illegal drugs needed to be recovered.

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The Other Guys