Saturday, July 31, 2010

FILM REVIEW: Will Ferrell & Mark Wahlberg's "The Other Guys"

In an EW interview, Paul Rudd said that he doesn't consider Steve Carrell a comedian. He's just an actor who happens to be funny. Mark Wahlberg is not a comedian. However, unlike Carrell, he doesn't have a long list of comedic films on his resume that say otherwise. If Walhberg were to tell you that he's not a comedian, you wouldn't argue with him. Why? Because there are actors that you laugh with, actors you laugh because of, and actors you laugh at. A comedian can be any of these actors, but any one of these actors cannot be a comedian.

NBC's "Community" actually has all three kinds. Abed is the kind of character you laugh with, because you feel like you're in on the joke. Jeff is the kind of character you laugh because of, either because they are veterans in the comedy genre and they know how to push the audience's buttons or they command authority and deliver deadpan punchlines. And Pierce is the kind of character you laugh at, because he's ridiculous.  

Walhberg is the second kind, the authoritative, deadpan kind. He was even nominated for an Oscar for being this kind of funny! So the problem isn't that he can't deliver a punchline, it's that he spent a better part of his life being one. It all started with his brief rap career that's been a running joke for decades. Even Eminem, the sole successful white rapper in Rap history, made fun of him to his face on "TRL." He's made a living off of being the tough white guy on film ever since his music career ended. But every now and then someone, like Andy Samberg, mocks his persona. Anger is his schtick. But it isn't loud. It isn't abrasive. It's just gurgling under the surface. It's the total opposite of his Other Guy's character Terry.

Those lines weren't meant for a no-bullshit, sarcastic smart ass. They were meant for a seasoned comedian who knew how to skirt the line between enraged and goofy, without coming off like a caricature. It was like Walhberg was doing a Samberg impression of a Wahlberg impression. Do you know who would've done that role justice? Danny McBride. He and Will Ferrell have already had their buddy comedy with Land of the Lost. While it's true that that film did poorly, it wasn't because of the acting or their chemistry. That said, I do respect Walhberg for trying to step outside his comfort zone and dabbling in a genre he's not well known for. But hopefully the lack of critic adoration will not deter him from trying again.

As for the rest of the film, here are my favorite moments:
Narrator: Right from the beginning, you realize that Ice-T is narrating. Yes, Ice-T, the 80s rapper who stars on one of the "Law & Orders" and has a porn star for a wife. Every time I heard his voice all I could think about was his mutant kangaroo character in Tank Girl. lol

Supporting Cast: Damon Wayans Jr. (Dance Flick) and Rob Riggle ("Gary Unmarried" and Killers) as the other other guys, who are a little less incompetent than Ferrell and Wahlberg, were great additions to the cast, especially since The Rock and Samuel L. Jackson's roles were more like cameos after a hilarious incident meant to poke fun at action movie cops rendered them useless. Wayans and Riggle's best scene was when they had to give a speech to an elementary class, and Wayans told the kids that the best way to stay safe is to "try your hardest to not be Black or Hispanic." Since I'm both, I guess I'll be trying twice as hard. Steve Coogan was funny too, but Michael Keaton stole the show.
Running Jokes: I loved the running jokes, from "desk pop" (shooting your gun off at your desk in a celebratory and/or proud manner), later used as "apartment pop," to "fresh start" (a phrase used when Ferrell tries to get Wahlberg to like him again lol).
Inside Joke: I loved the inside joke concerning the Yankees, since Wahlberg is from a non-Yankee-friendly state. His character mistook Derek Jeter for an assailant and shot him, resulting in the nickname Yankee Clipper, and in someone yelling out: "You should've shot ARod." lol 
Recession Humor: I liked that they continuously winked at the recession, having the captain (Keaton) take a second job as a manager at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

NYU Jibes: I liked the jibe at NYU (even though I went there lol). Keaton says that he has to work two jobs so that his son can "explore his bisexuality and become a DJ," because apparently that's the A-typical NYU experience. lol
Adolescent Behavior: I thought it was funny that they acted like teenagers sometimes, like when they were fighting on the floor at a wake and the other cops were whispering their cheers. The entire film can be boiled down to one question: "What would happen if the boys of Superbad grew up—Wahlberg as a beefed up Jonah Hill and Ferrell as a shaggy-haired Michael Cera—and starred in Beverly Hills Cops, but instead of being like Axel Foley, they're like the two idiots who follow him?
Stomach-Busting Moment: In one scene, Ferrell is pressured to speed towards a crime scene and he ends up running over the corpse that's on scene. I laughed so hard, I almost threw up.
"Dating Service": Ferrell's alter-ego Gator, the name he had when he was a pimp in college, was ridiculous, but it was funny that he kept reverting to him whenever he felt threatened.
Hangover moment: The guys-night-out drunken montage looked really cool. It was like a long-shot of still life.
TLC References: The fact that Keaton's character kept saying phrases ("chasing waterfalls," "you're a creep," and "aint too proud to beg") that were also TLC songs was so unexpected and hilarious.

Dirty Love: I liked the part when Ferrell and his wife (Eva Mendes) had to use her grandmother to communicate with each other so he can hide from the police and the criminals. They kept sending dirty messages back and forth and torturing the poor old woman. My favorite line was when she had to say, "She wants to walk wrong for a week!" lol
Best Action Scene: They drove into Chelsea Pier to evade a helicopter and on one side they were assaulted by a machine gun and on the other side they're being pelted with golf balls. Then the golfers take down the 'copter. Completely unrealistic, but original.

FINAL VERDICT: If you're dying for a laugh mixed with a little action and you don't want to go the family film route, turn off your frontal lobe, wear ear muffs (to tone down Wahlberg's screaming), and go see this film.
Release Date: Aug. 6th


  1. I stumbled upon your film review and I would have to say it's damn near spot on. Man, for any readers out there-- don't miss this one! Hilarious, ridiculous, crazy. You compared The Other Guys to the guys of Superbad grown up, which is quite good, but I talked with a friend about this movie and we both thought that Step Brothers grown up was more fit (it helps that the crew that made Step Brothers made The Other Guys).

    I saw this movie last night/this morning (midnight opening) and plan on seeing it a second or even third time, as soon as possible! Cheers.

  2. Great movie and review, but I swear to God if you use the phrase "lol" one more time you will walk wrong for a week.