The Other Guys [Blu-Ray]
Director : Adam McKay
Screenplay : Adam McKay & Chris Henchy
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 2010
Stars : Will Ferrell (Allen Gamble), Mark Wahlberg (Terry Hoitz), Eva Mendes (Sheila), Michael Keaton (Captain Mauch), Steve Coogan (Ershon), Ray Stevenson (Wesley), Samuel L. Jackson (Highsmith), Rob Riggle (Martin), Damon Wayans Jr. (Fosse), Dwayne Johnson (Danson)
The buddy-cop action movie has been parodied, gently and otherwise, so many times at this point that it would be reasonable to think that there is very little left to do with it (and if you had the misfortune of sitting through Kevin Smith’s obnoxiously unfunny Cop Out earlier this year, you might think there is nothing left to do with it). Yet, The Other Guys, which features Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as a mismatched pair of New York City police detectives who finally break away from their desk jobs to bust some bad guys, has just enough energy, originality, and sheer willpower to make us think otherwise.
Collaborating with Ferrell for the fourth time after Anchorman (2004), Talladega Nights (2006), and Step Brothers (2008), director Adam McKay knows intuitively what to do, which is to step back and let his actors run the show, and for the first half of the film, that is precisely what he does. Ferrell plays Allen Gamble, a towering geek in square glasses and frumpy ties who lets everyone in the police station walk all over him as he happily does the grunt work (mostly shuffling papers and entering information into the computer) that the “real cops,” especially the superstar duo of Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson happily slumming in extended cameos), won’t deign to do. Worse than that, he actually seems to like it, blissfully humming at his keyboard and excitedly trying to snap digital photos of the superhero cops who might have just walked in from Bad Boys III.
This naturally goes all over his partner, Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who is coiled far too tightly to sit at a desk, but is nonetheless stuck there due to his being partnered with Allen (the reason for his exile shuffling papers is best left as a surprise). Terry doesn’t like--no, he loathes--Allen and makes no bones about it, and the exasperated manner in which Wahlberg spits and roars his disdain marks his best work since his Oscar-nominated role in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006). It is as if Wahlberg has finally figured out that, when he plays a straight leading man, he’s dull as dirt, but when given a character who is about to explode with rage, he shines (P.T. Anderson understood this early on when he cast Wahlberg as the lead in Boogie Nights, as that remains the only film that successfully exploits both his blandness and his ferocity). Wahlberg’s Terry is essentially a straight man who hates being the straight man, while Ferrell plays the nerd whose randy-id goofiness is frustratingly repressed behind a veneer of social retardation that is bound to crack. And crack it does once Terry finally pushes Allen out of his chair and into the mean streets of the Big Apple, albeit in Allen’s emasculating Toyota Prius. Screaming “America!” like he truly means it, Allen puts the petal to the medal and ends up running over a dead body and crashing a crime scene, but that is just the beginning.
There are dastardly deeds being done on Wall Street by a sniveling big-money investor (Steve Coogan) looking to pull a Ponzi scheme to recoup the $32 billion he just lost for his biggest client, and Allen and Terry want to bust him, even if everyone else, including their police captain (Michael Keaton), think they’re nuts. If corporate malfeasance doesn’t sound like a typical criminal plot for an action comedy, it’s not, but the charts and graphs about various bail-outs and corporate screw jobs that accompany the closing credits suggest that there is supposed to be some kind of crusading social agenda beneath the frat-boy hijinks.
Economic issues aside, the real show here is Ferrell and Wahlberg’s odd-couple lunacy, and the movie is at its best when it plays with the various ways in which Ferrell’s genial awkwardness constantly sharpens the razors in Wahlberg’s eyes (at various points in the movie you would swear that Terry not only wants to kill Allen, but truly make him suffer). McKay and cowriter Chris Henchy (who collaborated on the much cruder and less funny Step Brothers) find all kinds of situations to manipulate this quick-burning meltdown, including a scene in which Allen invites Terry home for dinner and Terry finds that the dope is married to a dreamy-hottie wife played by Eva Mendes (“No, seriously, who is she?” Terry keeps asking when Allen tells him she is “the old ball and chain”). The movie starts getting sloppy and less engaging once the actual plot kicks into gear and we’re supposed to care about Allen and Terry solving the case, which ultimately drags us through numerous slow-motion action sequences that are supposed to parody slow-motion action sequences, but are too transparently enthralled with their own aesthetics to really work in such a manner. Instead, they just make us wish for another deliciously nasty scene in which Allen tries gamely to play nice with those who loathe him and Terry’s eyes start to bulge with barely contained contempt.
|The Other Guys Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy 2-Disc Set|
|This Blu-Ray contains both the original theatrical version and an unrated “Extended Edition.”|
|Subtitles||English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||December 14, 2010|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Nothing to complain about in either the video or audio departments. Sony’s 1080p/AVC MPEG-4-encoded transfer looks great, with excellent color saturation, solid blacks, and enough sharp detail that you can make out the razor burn on Will Ferrell’s neck (the detail also makes some of the green screen work stand out a bit too much). The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround soundtrack does plenty to remind us that this is as much an action movie at it is a comedy, with explosions that rumble the subwoofer and plenty of activity in the surrounds to make you feel like you’re in the middle of the maelstrom.|
|The supplements on The Other Guys is a collection of hits and misses. Like the supplements on many comedies, a great deal of them are tongue-in-cheek or outright satirical and are usually funnier in theory than in execution. Give the disc producers credit for their cleverness in coming up with a new twist on the screen-specific audio commentary by providing a “Mom-mentary,” which features the mothers of star Will Ferrell, director/cowriter Adam McKay, and cowriter Chris Henchy. It doesn’t always work, but it is certain interesting to listen to them respond to the film and swap stories about their sons. There is a surprising amount of deleted footage on the disc, including half an hour of deleted and extended scenes, a 10-minute montage of alternate improvisations of various lines in the movie, and the requisite gag reel. Many of the featurettes are just jokey and not really worth your time. However, the 10-minute “Crash and Burn” featurette about the film’s stunts and the 15-minute “Wasn’t That????” featurette about the casting of the film and its production are worth your time.|
Copyright ©2010 James Kendrick
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