Friday, August 6, 2010
FUNNY, BUT NOT FERRELL'S BEST: THE OTHER GUYS REVIEW
THE OTHER GUYS (B-)
This movie is very similar to Dinner for Schmucks in that it is a comedy featuring a tag team of lead actors who together form the only soluble piece for the entire film. Instead of the comedic duo of Carell and Rudd, The Other Guys features the mostly unfunny Mark Wahlberg and the most often funny Will Ferrell. I am going to try my hardest not to let my disdain for Wahlberg shine through in this review, but I cannot promise anything.
The story follows Wahlberg and Ferrell working as detectives who have failed to establish any credibility amongst their peers. The two go out of their way to crack a case that upon first look has no standing with the glamorous type of detective work from the department's top cops played by Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. With the doubt of their fellow detectives to drive them, the pair works to solve a case of white collar crime. They soon discover the deeper they investigate, the thicker the muck surrounding the case becomes.
The Other Guys was directed and written by Adam McKay who brought us Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, and Anchorman. McKay collaborated to compose the scripts for all of those projects with Ferrell himself, but this 2010 project is not the same. Ferrell was not part of the writing team, and that may have hurt the overall effort. As many will deduct from the above list of movies, the comedic genius of McKay is showcased in Anchorman and Step Brothers, both R-rated flicks. Talladega Nights, just like The Other Guys ended up having a PG-13 rating; something I believe hurt these movies drastically. The inability to use vulgarity and the typical raunch in many of the situations that arise in The Other Guys leave the laughs at chuckles when they could have been tear jerkers.
Some of the best pieces of comedy this decade come from those R-rated flicks. Many of those are so good because McKay pushes the boundaries and doesn't worry about keeping a PG-13 rating. Swear words can be overused in film, but they can also make dialogue more comical. I believe this is something McKay and Ferrell are very good at which they have shown with their R-rated projects. Barrett and I both felt this movie needed to be R-rated to be great like it could have been. Now, don't get me wrong, the movie was very funny. It had what Dinner for Schmucks lacked, the big laughs. All I am saying is this movie could have been closer to par with Step Brothers had it used the same formula that brought that classic its success.
Fans of Will Ferrell will love this role as he portrays the nerdy but enthusiastic detective looking for respect amidst all the testosterone driven police force. I know a lot of people who feel that Ferrell just doesn't do the job for them comedic-wise anymore, but I personally think he is still hilarious. However, I can see how people could feel his antics are getting old. If you are one of those who don't love Ferrell, skip this movie. Quick interjection, Michael Keaton played a supporting role in this film as the police chief. He surprised me with his ability to convey a character who takes charge but also is quietly strange.
Ok, on to Mark Wahlberg. First things first, I don't hate Marky-Mark. He has a lot of roles I think he really killed like: The Italian Job, The Departed, Fear, Three Kings, and Invincible (and his involvement in Entourage gets him brownie points). He was decent in other projects, and horrible in many others. My biggest problem with Wahlberg is his inability to chose projects that are good for him. His mistakes include: Max Payne, The Happening, The Lovely Bones, Planet of the Apes, and many more. These films don't turn out well for him because he just doesn't seem to fit into those roles. So blame his agent or Mark himself, but The Other Guys is yet another film I don't think fits this 39 year-old actor.
Mark's role in this film never seems to pick up any speed as his character Terry is seemingly normal in one scene and then invading his ex-girlfriends ballet practice calling her a stripper while also showing he himself has his own set of elite ballet skills. While some of this is the fault of the writing, the role was not carried out by Wahlberg very well either. Wahlberg has one of the movie's worst lines (unfortunately it is repeated many times), "I'm a peacock, let me fly." I seriously could not understand the inclusion of that laughable (not in a good way) dialogue several times in this movie or the horrible looking CGI peacock at the end.
The tag team of Ferrell and Wahlberg together were entertaining to watch which helped squander most of my dislike for Wahlberg's role individually. These two are the only focus of this film's narrative minus feeble attempts to incorporate Eva Mendes and a love aspect into the plot. Why she chose to be involved in this movie is not obvious to me. My guess is her agent can't find her any quality work, because this role was a waste of her time, and mine (even though she is very attractive). From my perception of Wahlberg being the weaker portion of this two piece puzzle, it hurt having the film only focus on these two characters.
Much of this film's shortcomings can be attributed to sub par writing (minus most of the comedy). I stated above how this film teetered on the necessity of an R-rating, but The Other Guys lacked quality writing in many other facets of the script as well. I will start with the inconsistent characters both Wahlberg and Ferrell are meant to portray. Both these leads switch from utterly insane to straight line police officers with the flick of a switch. This huge variation from scene to scene makes it difficult to grasp who these characters really are. Granted, perfectly constructed characters are not necessary for a simple comedy, but quality constructed characters are.
My biggest problem with this movie is the fairly complex plot that seems squeezed into the seams of the plot in between the laughs. The mystery the two detectives are trying to unravel is a white collar crime that has so many different twists it can leave the casual viewer scratching their head at who the real bad guy in this case really is. Not that this type of storytelling shouldn't be attempted in movies, but with a reletively simple comedy like this one, why try? Try McKay and co-writer Chris Henchy did, and failure was the outcome.
McKay tries too hard to make this movie stir thoughts of dissent against white collar crimes. This certainly was the most confusing part to me expecting nothing more than to laugh at the typical comedic proceedings from McKay and Ferrell. I can see an important message trying to be conveyed in a movie where some type of seriousness is relevant; but in a ridiculous comedy far from where an audience would expect a serious message, I think trying to incorporate one here is tomfoolery (Yep, I went there). As the credits roll, we are presented with facts about the corporate bailout and wrongdoings from the tyrants of the corporate world. WTF right?
Overall, The Other Guys is full of big laughs and definitely could be considered the funniest movie of the summer. It has some outrageous moments, hilarious dialogue, and an intriguing narrative. I can gripe about the smaller things that bothered me like character inconsistency or wasting time incorporating a story arc of love for both characters. But where this movie really came up short was by trying to push a message in a setting not fit for serious discussion, with a plot that doesn't really seem to fit with a simple comedy like this one.
It features the big laughs, but probably isn't worth the price of admission unless you are going to a matinee. Fans of Ferrell should not miss this, but it will not blow you away like many of his classics.
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