a critiQal film review The Other Guys (2010)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Ferrell) and Hoitz (Wahlberg) garner no headlines as they work day to day. Gamble relishes his job as a paper pusher, but Hoitz is itching to get back on the street and make a name for himself. When a seemingly minor case turns out to be a big deal, the two cops get the opportunity to finally prove to their comrades that they have the right stuff.

668 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 20s)

Since we aren’t big fans of Will Ferrell (to date, his only decent movie has been Stranger Than Fiction (2006)), when we heard about his new buddy cop comedy, The Other Guys, we weren’t exactly lining up to see it. Now that it’s available for watching instantly via NetFlix®, however, we decided to give it a shot. After all, what did we have to lose, besides some time?

As expected Will Ferrell isn’t exactly good in The Other Guys. Again, he plays a bumbling idiot, only this time he has a head for numbers. Whoopee. He’s still dull as dishwater, and even with help from the seemingly out-of-place Mark Wahlberg (who has done so much better), he isn’t interesting enough to keep the viewer from even switching him off completely.

Eva Mendes plays his wife, and, like Wahlberg, seems seriously miscast in such a dumb comedy. Both she and Wahlberg have shown they have much bigger personas than to be wasted on drivel like this, and the viewer almost feels bad for them that they have to demean themselves so for no payout whatsoever. Michael Keaton, who captured the public’s attention in features as different as Mr. Mom and Batman (1989), is also incredibly ill-used in The Other Guys, once again hurting his chances of making a big comeback.

The only two fun characters in The Other Guys are Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, whose buddy cop characters – complete with over-sized egos – are a delight to watch from start to finish. No matter that the film tries to ridicule their actions, the viewer can still see them as stars in a film worth seeing, and seeing them jump ship from the awful The Other Guys only helps to increase their likability.

While the film seems to have a good idea, it fails to really bring that idea to the viewer in a way that even resembles interesting. Poking fun at the action hero cops that permeate films? Sounds great. Make the little guys – the hard-working cops that surround them – into the big winners by doing some actual police work? Fantastic. Incorporate the big money issues that the recent bailouts have recently illuminated? Right on the money.

Unfortunately, each one of those glimmers of hope fall along the wayside as the movie progresses. Poking fun at the action hero cops? Well, it would help if the barbs at their over-enthusiasm weren’t a follow-up to a moving gun battle with uzi-toting bad guys threatening to wipe an entire police force off the map. Make the everyday cops do some actual police work to capture the bad guys? Swell…but making them virtual incompetents who are slow to realize glaring bribes for what they are, and giving one of them a wooden gun AND showcasing their apparent complete lack of police training – making the pair of them look like nothing more than glorified accountants – well, that’s just not a good idea. Incorporate the big money issues brought to light by the bailouts? Terrific…just not as much so when the characters themselves are so dull.

How about making the comedy actually funny? That could be a good start to liven things up a bit. Nope…aside from a running gag about Mark Wahlberg’s infatuation with Will Ferrell’s on-screen wife Eva Mendes – while Ferrell continues to put her down about her looks – fizzles out by the end, and other running gags (like Keaton’s unintentional quoting of TLC songs) aren’t funny to begin with and just get worse the longer they are dragged out.

As with most of Will Ferrell films, The Other Guys includes some decent actors used incredibly badly and a plot with so much potential that quickly becomes as dreary as Ferrell’s accountant character. Follow the lead of Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson’s action cops, and get out early – after they leave, there’s isn’t really any reason to stick around and watch The Other Guys grind it’s way to a close.

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