Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, respectively) are heroic New York detectives. They don’t do paperwork, they leave mass destruction in their wake and their antics usually cost a fortune. But people love them. They get good press and are adored by many mere mortals. Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) are . . . . . . . . . the other guys. Two men who aren’t heroes, with Gamble actually preferring to do paperwork and stay at his desk while others grab the glory (much to the frustration of Hoitz). But when Danson and Highsmith are put out of action there’s a gap that needs filled and, whether they want to or not, Gamble and Hoitz may just have what it takes to step up their game and become heroes.
Written and directed by Adam McKay (with Chris Henchy ably assisting in the screenwriting department), The Other Guys is yet another collaboration between the director and Will Ferrell and I’d have to highly recommend it as their best work in years. In fact, if the fantastic Anchorman wasn’t in their back catalogue I would easily rank The Other Guys as their best ever movie.
Why does it work so well? Let’s start with the cast – a mix of big names and familiar faces all in on the fun. Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson aren’t onscreen for all that long but they make quite an impact with their hilarious roles. Will Ferrell does what he does so well (if you like his style, those who dislike him will not be converted here) but the bigger laughs are derived from Mark Wahlberg and his frustration, anger and disbelief at just how Will Ferrell’s character gets through life. Rob Riggle and Damon Wayans Jr. are a lot of fun as cops competing for the latest opening while Michael Keaton reminds audiences of just how funny he can be, playing an exasperated captain. Eva Mendes is a great sport (as she was in Stuck On You), Steve Coogan has a lot of fun and Ray Stevenson is the muscle. Lindsay Sloane, Derek Jeter, Bobby Cannavale and many others also show up to join in the fun.
The script? It’s hilarious and surprisingly smart. You may be enjoying all of the insults, one-liners and moments of stupidity but the movie also manages to have it’s cake and eat it by a) having a plot that’s as relevant as you can get in these economically disastrous times and b) being an action comedy that is hilarious for most of the runtime and actually pretty damn good in the action department when the cops ‘n’ robbers sequences are happening.
McKay pokes fun at action movie clichés and also uses them effectively when he wants to, in a manner that’s both amusingly cheeky and just outright entertaining. Comedies don’t usually look like they have big budgets or moments of cool spectacle just for the sake of cool spectacle but this one does, and is all the more enjoyable for it.
It’s not going to appeal to everyone (no comedy ever does) but this film has the stupidity that Ferrell excels at while also weaving through a very nice line in smart. All with some great special effects and some action moments to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. And a few hilarious TLC references (watch it and find out what the hell I’m on about). Be sure to stay tuned over the engrossing end credits.
DIRECTOR: ADAM MCKAY
STARS: WILL FERRELL, MARK WAHLBERG, EVA MENDES, STEVE COOGAN, ROB RIGGLE, DAMON WAYANS JR, MICHAEL KEATON, RAY STEVENSON
RUNTIME: 116 MINS APPROX (EXTENDED VERSION)