PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Reviews

'The Other Guys' Is a Movie-cop Parody and Buddy Comedy

Adam McKay's The Other Guys is a classic case of a summer film wanting to have its cake and gobble it down at the same time.


The Other Guys

Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Columbia
Year: 2010
UK Release Date: 2010-09-02 (General release)
US Release Date: 2010-08-06 (General release)
Website
Trailer

The cop-buddy flick has long depended on humor to get by. In today's uncertain Hollywood times, when even the most thoroughly test-marketed product frequently fails to catch fire, the formula needs something extra, something more than the usual bickering detectives running down the perps and telling their captain where to shove it. Who knew that something extra would involve a light FM-obsessed Will Ferrell cruising in a Prius?

Adam McKay's The Other Guys is a classic case of a summer film wanting to have its cake and gobble it down at the same time. We start in the middle of a car chase: a pair of hotshot Manhattan detectives (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, both chewing the scenery like it was candy) in pursuit of a band of Rastafarian hoods, leaping from cars, driving into tour buses, and blasting away. Any possible concerns about causing $12 million in damage to run down some misdemeanors are brushed away at a victorious press conference, where reporters ID themselves as "New York Observer... Online" or TMZ... Print edition," and the two are treated like celebrity athletes.

It's a promisingly ludicrous start, cutting right to the chase with the same cheerfully mocking bravado of McKay's Southern-fried bonanza Talladega Nights. The film then shifts focus smoothly to Allen (Ferrell) and Terry (Mark Wahlberg, playing smartly against type), a couple of the paperwork-filing cops stuck with desk duty while the star detectives run around the city as if they're remaking Cobra. These other guys are fizzing bottles of impotent rage, which they unleash on each other in hissy fits that recall the anarchic sprawl of McKay's last Ferrell comedy Step Brothers. "I'm going to climb over that anger wall of yours," Allen warns, "And it's going to be glorious."

Between these two extremes of movie-cop parody and randomized buddy comedy, McKay finds a solid groove for a time. Allen and Terry's pariah status provides ample opportunity for abuse, particularly Terry's backstory, in which he accidentally shoots Derek Jeter during the World Series (leading one cop to shriek, "He's a bi-racial angel!"). Even after an accident thrusts Allen and Terry to center stage (relatively) and puts them on the streets, The Other Guys seems to know exactly how unseriously to take itself.

Somewhere around the time that we're introduced to the rudiments of an actual story, though, a little of the light goes out of the proceedings. There's a bad guy for the mismatched pair to catch, of course, and the fact that it's Steve Coogan as a financier displaying a sub-Gordon Gecko oiliness bodes well for levels of comic genius to come, but these somehow never materialize.

At about the midway point, we realize that The Other Guys wants to be at least a partially normal cop movie, and not just a rag on the form. Here it turns from short-form surreality to summer action formula. The exchanges between Allen and Terry, while funny enough in their own right, never reach that pitched level of nearly homicidal strangeness as did Ferrell and John C. Reilly's sparring in Step Brothers. Because of this leveling out of McKay's style -- in which he wastes far too much time crafting a mediocre crime plot whose pieces actually fit together -- the finished product is amusing but rarely as funny as it could have been.

The Other Guys ends up overusing some initially effective running jokes, like the nebbishy Allen's having a bombshell doctor of a wife (Eva Mendes) he utterly fails to appreciate, or the captain's propensity for quoting TLC lyrics. Maybe that's the price that needs to be paid in order to cover all potential audience bases and keep producers happy. This isn't the greatest cinematic sin of the year (or week). And in the end, it beats another Lethal Weapon. After all, somebody has to pay for all those squibs and exploding helicopters.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.