Thursday, September 23, 2010
Review: The Other Guys
Gamble and Hoitz are two NYPD desk cops living in the shadows of New York’s finest crime fighters Danson and Highsmith (Dwane Johnson and Samuel L Jackson respectively). Gamble is a forensic accountant who revels in paperwork and has no interest in fighting crime on the streets, and after being pranked by his co-workers is left with only a wooden gun as a weapon. Hoitz on the other hand is a streetwise and hot headed detective stuck with Gamble as a partner; presumably as punishment for firing his gun in the line of duty unnecessarily and shooting a famous NY Yankees player during a crucial game. When Danson and Highsmith die (due to a bizarre lack of judgement on their part) Hoitz and Gamble get the opportunity to step up and fight some real crime. This ends up with the mismatched duo becoming embroiled in a murky corporate conspiracy, of the type that would bring Vince Cable to tears.
Generally I judge a comedy film on the frequency of laughs (it’s not an exact science but it works), and on the whole The Other Guys gives you plenty and without lengthy gaps between the funny moments. Whilst it achieves that it also has a solid core behind it, dealing with the buddy element, often seen in McKay’s work, and also tackling the corporate conspiracy plotlines.
The Other Guys marks the latest collaboration between Will Ferrell and Anchorman director John McKay, and hopes for the magic of the partnership returning are not unfounded. This film shows Ferrell at his awkward and naïve best. Although thankfully this is a more restrained performance from the actor, and he doesn’t just spend all his time screaming silly lines. This however doesn’t prevent that side of Ferrell coming out, but it is measured and is normally tempered to the right moments. This is especially satisfying when Gamble starts slipping in and out of his ‘college pimp’ persona named ‘Gator,’ complete with street lingo. In one instance of this he screams “Gator’s bitches better be using Jimmies,” when he learns of his wife’s pregnancy. It really is Ferrell at his insane and hyperactive best.
The real surprise of this film is Walberg as Terry Hoitz. This marks the actor’s first proper steps into comedic acting and he achieves it well. Walberg manages to play the straight man to Ferrell’s wet blanket accountant/cop beautifully; managing to hold an expression of eye-popping frustration with his partner that is hilarious on its own, and that’s before he even tries to be funny, which is also very good.
Another worthy performance comes from Michael Keaton, who is given a surprisingly minor role as the Police precinct captain. Keaton slides into his semi-serious role well, and manages, like Walberg, to come across in straight and comedic modes. His character, despite how little we see of him, is also quite developed and is shown to be the father of a bisexual college student and working at a second job at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
A problem with the movie however, is that it feels like it’s running a hidden agenda against corporate bailouts. This is made clearly overt at the end, where there is a direct reference to the Goldman Sachs debacle, as well as the amount of money being squandered on bailouts. It’s a bit like McKay is attempting to trick us into becoming involved in a political debate, and this feels wrong. Let’s remember the people going to see a piece of entertainment, not for a finger wagging. It’d be like going to a football match and being given a multiplication test based on the players numbers.
Despite these minor gripes. The Other Guys overall is a fantastic return to form for both McKay and Ferrell. It is sharp, funny, and is more fun than you can shake a wooden gun at.