If you're looking for some laughs, there's no reason not to see The Other Guys. Writer-director Adam McKay and his MVP Will Ferrell are funny guys, indeed - but maybe not quite as funny here as in some of their other movies.
This one begins big, with some other big-name guys. Samuel Jackson and Dwayne (formerly "The Rock") Johnson are perfectly cast as a couple badass NYC cops - chewing the scenery in a hysterical display of male-hormone-induced hubris within the first fifteen minutes of the film. The now-open honorary slot of baddest-ass-cop-duo beckons not only the more obvious hot-shots on the force, but perhaps also the "Other Guys" - those familiar, unnamed cop-genre extras who populate the background of the kind of movies this one parodies, uniformly identified as stock-character nobodies by really bad ties.
Here, we have our unlikely candidates: a reluctant Alan Gamble (Will Ferrell) and his desk partner, Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who is a wannabe hero with an attitude problem. Alan is overtly happy cracking down on blue-collar accounting indiscretions. Terry has recently been demoted from homicide to this dull detail. He spends much of the movie venting at Alan through emasculating insults ("your Prius is like driving a vagina") and illogical animal metaphors ("I am a peacock, let me fly"). Alan is far too willing to interrupt his paperwork to deconstruct the insults and the metaphors as well as the screwed-up premises on which they are based.
Less coherent is the rest of the production package, which is marred by weird lighting and make-up errors. Sometimes, Ferrell has really bad teeth and sometimes he doesn't; go figure. The actual crime plot is a mess. Following a building code violation, our intrepid duo discovers a multi-billion dollar Wall Street scam. The details are fuzzy. So is the related message: that ordinary heroism is the only defense against the enduring pervasiveness of corporate greed.
This wouldn't be worth mentioning - except that writer-director Adam McKay seems to think that it is. Why else create institutional antagonists with names like "Lendl Global" and "Endemic Bank"? Why create minor, unnamed evil characters just to say: "Live for excess; it's the American way." And why else use the closing credits - where in movies of this ilk we typically see actors snort-laughing and line-flubbing - to feature a Harper's Index-style list with up-to-date factoids on egregious Wall Street excesses - all to the tune of Bob Dylan's Maggie's Farm, la Rage Against the Machine?
You gotta love that kind of allusive commentary - and I do - even though the irony and the gravitas seem to belong to, well, some other movie.
The Other Guys
Directed by: Adam McKay
Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes