Movie Review: The Other Guys (2010)

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys
Photo: Columbia Pictures

As a movie reviewer when someone tells you a movie “wasn’t that bad” after reading your negative review it feels like sweet vindication when a movie comes along proving it doesn’t benefit anyone to kowtow to a lesser product. As the second buddy cop comedy of 2010 arrives, The Others Guys proves patience is a virtue, not to mention it would appear Adam McKay can make a movie I actually like.

Concerning McKay’s previous teamings with Other Guys co-star Will Ferrell, I found only mild amusement in Anchorman (Jack Black kicking the dog off the overpass was the only high point for me), Talladega Nights was decent but the trailers ruined it for me and I could go the rest of my life without ever seeing Step Brothers again. It feels nice to now be on the other side of the fence.

To set up the story, Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star as New York City police detectives Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz respectively. Neither is well respected in the department as Allen prefers pushing papers over risking life and limb on the street, and Terry is a self-proclaimed “peacock” that only wants to fly, though a mishap with Derek Jeter a few years ago killed his confidence. Additionally, Allen’s got a dark side and Terry isn’t exactly the brightest bulb. In terms of a buddy cop comedy teaming, it works perfectly.

Ferrell plays a straight man most of the time, kindhearted, but just annoying enough to be that guy you’d rather not spend more than five minutes with at a time. Wahlberg plays Terry with the rage of his Departed counterpart Sergeant Dignam, but not nearly the wit. My only fear walking in was that both actors would be caught playing these character traits into the ground, but a well-mixed script written by McKay and Chris Henchy (Land of the Lost) gives each their due, not to mention boasts a solid supporting cast.

The first 15 minutes or so are dominated by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson playing Highsmith and Danson, a pair of swinging dicks that lay waste to the city in an opening police chase reminiscent of something you would see in one of Michael Bay’s Bad Boys films. Jackson and Johnson play the parody to the hilt and it scores big laughs.

Another welcome addition is Michael Keaton as Police Captain Gene Mauch who also moonlights as a sales manager at Bed, Bath and Beyond and has a tendency to unknowingly quote TLC when dolling out words of wisdom. Eva Mendes as Allen’s wife is also a bonus as it would seem comedies may be the best fit for her talent or lack thereof.

The easiest comparison is to call The Others Guys the American answer to Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. This isn’t to say I’m comparing the two since they are drastically different in terms of their execution, but McKay shows a solid ability to interject moments of silliness, such as a late night rendezvous between Allen and his wife’s mother, as well as a satisfying satirical look at not only the buddy cop films of the ’80s — although they were an obvious inspiration — but pretty much all guns-blazing action films of late.

Best of all, The Other Guys tells us to not be satisfied with films that “aren’t that bad” and at the very least require filmmakers give us something “good.” Sometimes it’s hard to admit you’ve spent hard earned money on a film that doesn’t live up to expectation or the money you spent, but I feel I can safely say The Other Guys is a film you won’t have that problem with.