THE OTHER GUYS. Starring Derek Jeter, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Whalberg, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton and Will Ferrell. Directed by Adam McKay Rated M (Sexual references and action violence). 107 minutes
I had a smile on my face most of the time watching The Other Guys, but it is all rather silly, maybe too silly for some.
The real guys make an initial appearance, Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson, ace detectives for whom no feat is too difficult and who are police vanity personified. They depend on those who push pencils (or computer keys anyway) at desks, the other guys. Then they indulge in a derring-do stunt, leaping from a building – miscalculating, leaving two detective openings, a chance for the other guys to go out and confront the criminals.
This is a Will Ferrell film. Most of the time, I find him very funny, especially when he creates characters who are rather vain but become the butt of comedy (Ron Burgundy, Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers). Sometimes he is not so funny at all and rather hard to take. His Allen Gamble here is, for me, one of his best. He is a buttoned up police accountant who loves his job and is meticulous, that is Meticulous with a capital M. He is paired in the office with Mark Wahlberg who has shot a star baseballer (Derek Jeter as himself) and is trigger happy at his desk. Michael Keaton is their boss. The others in the squad take every opportunity to mock.
You’ve guessed it. Out they go on a case and get into all kinds of scrapes (and get out of them as well) which gives the opportunity to both stage chases and shootouts as well as send them up. While you think Wahlberg is giving a one-note performance, he suddenly does some ballet pirouettes (though he had learnt them at school to mock the gay students). Then Allen Gimble is given a back-story so opposite to what he seems that you can’t believe it, but it has its funny moments. Wahlberg also discovers that Ferrell is married to a doctor – who turns out to be ultra-glamorous (Eva Mendes) but acts like a suburban housewife.
There are also lots of funny one-liners, especially in slinging off at the movies.
Steve Coogan appears as a dodgy financier pursued by Anne Heche and her former SAS assistant who tries to abduct him and keeps tangling with the ‘other guys’.
It is funny, immediately forgettable, but reminds us that when Will Ferrell is good, he can be very good.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out 9th September 2010.