Monday 20 September 2010

Review: The Other Guys

Year: 2010
Director: Adam McKay
Screenplay: Adam Mckay, Chris Henchy
Starring: Will Farrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes, Steve Coogan, Micheal Keaton.

Synopsis is here

Much like Monty Python, the comic styling of Mckay and Farrell are an acquired taste at the best of times. The improv oneliners and oddball acts of randomness sometimes feel like the two have just thrown everything at a wall to see what sticks. However in The Other Guys, with it's deconstruction of buddy cop plots and almost mature touches of commentary (constantly hinting at the average joe being stiffed by the big guys), the film feels much more complete; and less like a bunch of random skits.

It's capitalist crime job which is the underlying plot for the comic weirdness feels a little too on point, but also appears to rip on the 80's and 90's cop actioners excess not only in movies (the beginning would make Don Simpson raise from the grave.) but white collar excess and blindsiding in general. A prime example would be Coogan's criminal character using sports/theatre tickets to bribe our "other guys". It's amusing enough, and is helped along by the feeling that the gag feels topical.

But it also helps that while appearing quite sly with certain digs, it has Marky Mark at the forefront slapping me round the face with his comic chops. I've never been the biggest fan of Wahlberg, however here, I found his display funnier than Farrells usual shtick. Wahlberg's angry little man-dances and vacant expression to me where a constant riot. His short man syndrome had me constantly cracking up. Farrell has his moments (the "gator" backstory is a tad overused but giggle worthy), but I found myself constantly wanting to see the wannabe macho Wahlberg flare up again.

But it's not just machismo and physical humor that had me going but was also smaller things in the direction and writing (I know, in a Will Farrell feature!). Mckay's constant digging at the the genre was a great source of humor to me. Example? Watch the over edited, green-screened beginning and compare it to the last set-piece that actually allows you to see the action. While it doesn't skewer the genre as well as Edgar Wright's forever watchable Hot Fuzz, there are moments in The Other Guy that show it has its head in the right direction.

It's not all great. The film runs out of stream in the last third, and like many Farrell films; if you don't know the obscure pop culture references then you can be left stranded. It's also coming apparent that Farrell's exposure since Anchorman has been so high that his appeal is starting to wane. But still, the rhythm of the randomness hits that sweet spot more often than not, while the supporting players are not only game but use their time to shine well. Add an Angry Wahlberg and some pot shots at the genre that hit hard than Kevin Smith's plodding Cop Out and you got yourself a good giggle.