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Friday, 10 September 2010

The Other Guys

(M) ★★

Director: Adam McKay.

Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Steve Coogan, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes.

"It's Donnie from New Kids On The Block! I love those guys!
Hey jump in the photo, why don't ya?"
FIRST, the good news: the combination of Ferrell and Wahlberg is a great one and their chemistry elevates this comedy.

The bad news: the combination of Ferrell and Wahlberg is still not enough to save this misfire.

It's disappointing because the potential here is huge. After a rambunctious opening involving NYPD's top cops Highsmith and Danson - played with great cheek by Samuel L Jackson and Dwayne Johnson - the film pulls the carpet out from under the viewer by killing them off quickly in horribly tone-breaking and idiotically absurd fashion.

Their deaths pave the way for two other cops to step up and become heroes of the city, and disgraced short-fused officer Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) and his mismatched accountancy-loving partner Allen Gamble (Ferrell) hope it will be them.

But to become the best of the best, Hoitz and Gamble have to solve a case, and the script has a hard time finding a straight-ahead one for them to investigate, leaving the plot to wander aimlessly for much of the running time as they chase a shoddy businessman (Coogan) and get chased by a number of shadowy forces.

One of the biggest problems is that The Other Guys is unsure of what kind of film it wants to be. After its promising opening, it seems destined to become a kind of buddy cop/action parody and this is when it works best - the real ramifications of being close to a huge explosion is one of the funnier moments, although the realistic laughs in the face of blockbuster conventions clashes badly with the unwieldly absurdist moments that are commonplace throughout.

The film also wants to make some kind of satirical comment about the Global Financial Crisis, as evidenced by its end credit graphics detailing corporate excess and how a ponzi scheme works, but aside from a handful of throw-away moments, this attempt at making a statement is almost non-existent.

What we're left with is an uneven comedy that has a major fail rate for laughs. Many potentially hilarious set-ups go begging because of botched punchlines and it seems as if Ferrell's best improvs have somehow been left on the floor (in fact, some of the trailer's funniest moments aren't even in the film or have been changed for lesser takes).

It's only when Ferrell and Wahlberg go head-to-head that The Other Guys sparkles and its unfortunate that such a good pairing is wasted. You almost wish for a sequel just so they can make the most of this chemistry second time around.