First things first: The Other Guys (2010) is the funniest film of the year. Yes, beating Hot Tub Time Machine (2010). The latest from one of the most successful comedy pairings of the last ten years, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have delivered another very good Summer Laugh. It's not a typical Ferrell role but one that works well (mostly because it is not a typical Ferrell role). This was very entertaining in a Summer that hasn't offered much of that at all.
Frank the Tank Meets Sgt. Dignam
The film is largely successful due to the uncommon pairing of Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. Wahlberg is quickly becoming one of my lifetime favourite actors. Permanent scowl, constant sour demeanor, mean temperament mostly all played to ridiculous comedic effect. It's almost tough to figure out which one of them is the straight man, for the first half it seems largely to be Ferrell, but as his repressed Pimp Alter-Ego Gator starts coming out more and more it's quickly evident both these characters are pretty nuts. Wahlberg's getting pretty great at tapping into his classic asshole persona to milk the funny and his energy paired up against Ferrell's sticklerism provides a ton of laughs.
Will Ferrell is pretty good at playing these really insane characters who attempt to cover up their inner wackiness. Frank the Tank in Old School (2003) was like this, his weakness being alcohol that brought back up the high energy personality that he truly had. Layered on top of this wildman was a dude struggling so hard to be normal. His Det. Allen Gamble in The Other Guys is like this. He hides this dangerously wild persona, "Gator," a necessary evil, underneath this incredibly safe, reserved character. What works is the median he finds towards the climax of the film, a mixture of love and confidence.
Wahlberg is straight Dignam from The Departed (2006), which is very welcome as he was the biggest delight in that film. He's filtered to a PG-13 audience (Wait until the Unrated DVD?) but the righteous anger is there as is a ton of action and an incredible fall from grace (Yankee Clipper!). This just wets my dick for The Fighter (2010) later this year.
This cast is ridiculous. Eva Mendes, Sam Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Steve Coogan, Michael Keaton, Rob Riggle and Damon Wayans, Jr all get their moments to shine. This is the kind of film that no joke is left unsaid. Every scene and character are used as well as they can be and then they're taken out (sometimes very literally), always to the best comedic effect. I can emphasize enough how consistently funny this flick is. Keaton hasn't been in a good film for the better half of a decade but has had a few slam dunks this summer, his dual Police/Bed, Bath & Beyond Chief role here and Ken in Toy Story 3 (2010). Spectacular.
Jackson and The Rock do a great job parodying to outrageous effect the kind of typical roles that they tend to play. For some reason Rob Riggle is eking out a career as a minor player in Will Ferrell Movies. Eva Mendes is ridiculous hot and busty all the time, it's pretty awesome. Coogan is slimy, Wayans hits every note where he should. It's a great time by everyone.
If You're Funny Enough You Don't Need a Plot
Now I've given this flick a ton of praise here, all of which is deserved, but it certainly has problems. There's hardly any real plot to discern and the ins and outs of the Corporate Espionage Scandal are pretty murky. The thing is though, the pacing and jokes work so well there's not a whole lot of time to pause and think about what the hell is going on.
What works with the basic premise though, is that this is really the Anti-Cop Movie. It's what Cop Out (2010) was trying to be and failed epically. As Wahlberg continually just assumes every enemy is a Drug Lord, he's really trying to be in a different movie. The villains are real villains for the most part, boring Corporate Scandal Villains. Will builds on "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions" during one scene and the bullethole-ridden car by the end of the big chase is ridiculous. The title refers to its plot, turning the action movie on its head featuring the guys no one really cares about. It's a great parody.
This is one of the most Surreal Movies of all time. The scenarios sometimes are pretty insane. Everything is geared towards the joke. From Sam and Dwayne's death to NBA bribes and Gamble's distaste for his own wife, this film is a straight film with tons of layers of strangeness coated on top. There's Wahlberg's dance scene, the incredible freeze frame Bar Montage set to Black Eyed Peas (What's up with Will's love of B.E.P.?) There are also more TLC jokes than I believed could fit into one movie. It's a nutty time.
The film has this weird anti-corporate, practically anti-capitalist bent during the ending and credits that does seem pretty tacked on and forced. It exists more of a parody of cop films than a supporter of Average Working America. The Grey Background is pretty unique though. There's a lot of weird parts of this movie. Let's just say though, that there is a great Moose Joke Post-Credits that is definitely worth staying for.
I haven't laughed this hard during any other film this Summer. It's refreshing, consistent, weird, awkward and awesome all at once. Couple this in between some Inception (2010) viewings and we're sold, brother.