The pairing of ‘bromedy’ heavyweights Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg was a cataclysm very obviously predetermined by the laws of ‘loudmouth gravitational pull’ and ‘money-making’. The timing of this film is actually rather good. Ferrell and Wahlberg seem to have a lopsided chemistry that is more believable and dare I say it, complex, than the classic angry cop/nerdy cop routine that has been gathering momentum of late in Hollywood. This film also follows the Tracey Morgan/Bruce Willis cringe-comedy ‘Cop Out’, and does a much better job of staying within its own boundaries, despite covering almost exactly the same territory. Although improving the US interpretation of this niche genre, one cannot help but reminisce about the premier film of this kind, from Britain, the Frost/Pegg double-bill Hot Fuzz. The Other Guys certainly falls very far short of this mark.
Self-conscious double-lead genre films like this one generally survive on two things: continuous, deprecating banter and allusions to ‘serious’ cop films and TV programs. The Other Guys is no exception. It goes so far in its references to other films as to include Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson amongst the cast as cops who are two, well, badasses. Any writing falling outside of these two categories, by virtue of its conspicuousness, has to be memorable. This is where this film is most disappointing. Perhaps the most innovative plot device is one in which Ferrell’s character Allen Gamble openly deflates his wife’s self-esteem by referring to her plain looks. The wife is played by the curvaceous Eva Mendes, who is anything but average-looking. This is not, I am sure you will agree, comic genius.
Despite potholes in the script, the film is full of fun explosions, city car chases, quite memorable casting (Steve Coogan does a turn as a corporate patsy) and most endearingly, the fractured angry patter of Ferrell and Wahlberg themselves. The two are a well-suited duo, neither quite committing to the dominance or subservience of the other, and are particularly prone to spontaneous acts of violence in the name of passion or drama. This is a film angled at fans of Ferrell and Wahlberg’s previous films (‘movies’ might be a better term here), and of fast-paced comedy that still works even if you forget the particulars of the plot, didn’t pay attention to the plot, or couldn’t in fact locate a coherent plot at all. 6.5