Movie Review - The Other Guys (**)

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The Other Guys.  107 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Adam McKay.  Written by Adam McKay & Chris Henchy.  Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Dwayne Johnson.
Big props go to Sony's marketing team for picking out almost all of the funny bits for the trailer of the latest big screen pairing of writer-director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell.  Their collaborations have led to some of the most inspired comedies of the last few years: Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers.  When judged against those successes, The Other Guys comes up disappointingly short.  There are laughs, sure, but most of them come in the movie's first ten minutes.  The Other Guys tries to parody action comedies (an idea done to spectacular effect in 2007's Hot Fuzz), but falls into the same rut as the films it's parodying: too much plot, not enough comedy.  
What made Anchorman so great is its shapelessness and carefree attitude toward story and plot.  Non-sensical, improvisational musings and non-sequiters were Anchorman's bread and butter, and it's that rambling, unconventional style of comedy that can lead to the biggest laughs.  There's some of that in The Other Guys.  Early on, Ferrell has a hysterical monologue about lions and tunas that goes on for about 2 minutes, has nothing to do with the story, and pays off huge.  I also enjoyed the repressed dark side of Ferrell's character (Allen Gamble) with Allen talking to himself in the third person as his pimp persona, "Gator."  Choice line: "Gator wants his bitches wearing johnnies."
It's too bad the movie didn't have more of this random kind of humor.  The bulk is strictly buddy-cop action movie stuff, with a game Michael Keaton as the captain, and Mark Wahlberg, a no-nonsense foil for Ferrell.  The plot is standard stuff - the other guys are called in to crack a major case when their hotshot idols (nice cameos by Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) are put out of commission.  This plot device doesn't really provide the comedic fodder needed though because at some point, the filmmakers actually have to pull off the story and tie it up, at the expense of audience interest.
When the movie tries to go back to being funny, it usually falls flat - take, for instance, the way-too-long scene of Allen and his wife (Eva Mendes) exchanging dirty messages back and forth using a grandma.  The Other Guys should be blowing up the action comedy genre and all its cliches, but it doesn't really.  In some ways, this movie is no different than other substandard, all-too-conventional action comedies like National Security or Showtime or I Spy.  Maybe it's because Wahlberg isn't as good an improviser as John C. Reilly and the Anchorman crew.  Maybe McKay was too tied up with the unimaginative, poorly staged action sequences to deviate too far from the script.  I'm not sure.  All I know is that I'd rather be watching other guys than these Other Guys.  Can we just get Anchorman 2 already?

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  • Okay, sorry it ihas been awhile for me to write you here John. You have been pretty dead on as far as I am concerned with your star givings recently. Dinner for Schmucks, average at best, The Other Guys the same. I am dying for a good comedy to come out. I saw the Expendables. I am waiting to read your review of that. Honestly though, what could you actually expect from it, exactly what you got. Stuff blowing up, continuously. It could have been called that. So I can't really bash it because it is not like they were getting together a cast of thespians the like the world will never see again. It was dudes kicking ass with a weak plot, a somewhat lame bad guy, some horrid one liners and basically everything you would expect from an action movie like this. I will say that Bruce Willis was good in it for the short short time he was in it. Very funny to see all three big 80's action icons together on the screen. Anyway, I will say that I was suprised that you when with 3.5 stars on Salt. To me, it was like a bad female Bourne movie. I mean it wasn't awful, but 3.5 stars just seemed high I might have knocked it to 2.5. It should lose a point for her jumping from truck to truck to truck, or stealing from Mission Impossible, or better yet almost giving away the twist at the end of the movie like 20 minutes before it comes up. I don't know. I just left feeling like eh why did I bother. Which is kind of how I felt about the Other Guys. The premise is funny, and it has some choice lines, but you are right, it leaves you wanting. THe diatrie about lions and tuna was great, a lot of the randon stuff was really funny, and I think that is what made movies like Anchorman so funny because you could watch them a ton and always hear or see something new. This movie is very by the book and while Michael Keaton is funny, he can't save this rather mundane movie.

  • In reply to movieczar:

    Hey Bill - nice to hear from you. Yeah, I gotta admit I liked Salt. I thought it was a solid action flick. Short and sweet. Ridiculous, sure. But I thought the director kept things moving.

    Saw The Expendables last night. Full review coming soon. It's terrible, but awesome at the same time.

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