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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson
DIRECTED BY
Adam McKay
SCREENPLAY
Adam McKay, Chris Henchy
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
107 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Sony
DVD EXTRAS
Crash and Burn!
Bed Bath and Way Beyond
Unrated edition
 "The Other Guys" Review 
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Most of the time, when a comic turns actor there's a standard movie review line - If you like this person, then you either will or will not enjoy this film.

The Other Guys is an exception to this rule, a Will Ferrell film that transcends the usual Will Ferrell shtick and that manages to entertain on a level that Ferrell hasn't managed to entertain over the course of his last few films including his last film, the simply awful Land of the Lost.

This is not to say that The Other Guys is destined to be considered a comedy classic. It's not. The Other Guys is, however, Ferrell's freshest, hippiest, liveliest and funniest film in quite some time and proof that the perpetually infantile comic may have finally figured out a way to grow up cinematically without losing his faithful fans.

In The Other Guys, Ferrell is Allen Gamble, a forensics accountant whose perfectly happy sitting behind a task doing what he regards as perfectly important work while others, most notably the high octane detective duo of Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson) get the girls and the glory even while doing millions of dollars in damage to snag third-rate thugs. Gamble is paired with a wannabe high octane detective, Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), whose promising career was sent to the minor leagues when he inadvertently shot a New York City legend.

It goes without saying that eventually Gamble and Hoitz are going to get their moment in the spotlight, courtesy of a touch too much bravado by Highsmith and Danson and, as well, an abundance of intellectual curiosity by the policy and procedure driven Gamble. Gamble's curiosity leads him to arrest a British billionaire (Steve Coogan), who also happens to be fighting for survival after a series of bad investments has put him in bad blood and very little time to amend the situation.

Needless to say, Gamble's rather straightforward arrest over unlicensed scaffolding leads to something much, much more.

While at first the pairing of Ferrell and Wahlberg seems misguided at best, it works much better than one might expect largely because Ferrell does the unthinkable - he tones down his usual man-child shtick and gives Wahlberg, an inexperienced but mostly promising comic actor, room to fly like a peacock and soar.

Ferrell's Gamble has toned down his life, a promise made to his hottie, I mean "cute," wife Dr. Sheila Gamble (Eva Mendes), after his wild days in college that landed him in an ER being cared for by his soon to be wife. While Ferrell is decidedly low-key, Wahlberg is his usually ball of repressed energy and explosions waiting to happen. While Wahlberg doesn't quite have perfect coming timing yet, he does seemingly have an innate ability to respond to the silliness around him and the goofiness that is Ferrell. Wahlberg is never more effective than when trying without success to figure out how the stuffy Gamble landed Sheila and when playing off his character's machismo in scenes involving dance, peacocks and a host of other atypical Wahlberg props.

Co-writer and director Adam McKay knows how to rein in Ferrell and, as well, he seemingly has a gift for blending comedy with action more successfully than we've seen in the buddy cop genre for quite some time. While several of the film's scenes fall almost painfully flat, most notably a bizarre "cut out" type drunken scene in a bar, a John Woo style slo-mo scene and a couple scenes where Ferrell does go way too far over the top, the vast majority of The Other Guys is a wonderful exercise in disciplined comedy and ensemble chemistry.

Eva Mendes, as Gamble's wife, toys wondrously with being both typecast and cast against type, while Michael Keaton again reminds everyone how brilliant a comic actor he is as a police chief who works part-time in management for Bed, Bath & Beyond.

I admit it...even the set-up makes me laugh.

Steve Coogan is his usual smarmy self, though his shift in the film's final 30 minutes is far too abrupt and unconvincing. Both Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson burst out of the gate in the film's first 15 minutes, providing the film with what may very well be its finest moments.

At 107 minutes, The Other Guys runs on a good 15 minutes too long and tighter editing could likely have made the film's abundance of funny routines feel even more consistently funny than they already are.  A marvelous blend of over-the-top hijinks and background, blink and you'll miss it humor, The Other Guys is that rare comedy that should have no problem pleasing both fans and non-fans of its key players.

The film's closing credits end the film with a rather bizarre yet effective touch, combining the vocal stylings of Gnarls Barkley's Cee-Lo and Eva Mendes with what could best be described as a not so subtle indictment of corporate America smack dab in the middle of the closing credits.

Admit it. After the simply awful Land of the Lost, you found yourself wondering if Ferrell's career was winding down as he'd taken his man-child about as far as he could go.

Never fear. Will Ferrell is back.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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