Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Other Guys. A-

The Other Guys stands well above anything Adam Mckay has ever made, both in terms of its comedy and intelligence. He's always written his movies for Will Ferrell, and here he seems to have expanded on the actor's talents instead of just relying on his usual shtick. He allows Ferrell to be embody a tame, soft-spoken character, someone who doesn't go over the top and who keeps his antics at a steady low. If you combine this with the other aspect of Ferrell's legendary comic abilities, his latent stupidity, the result is something more than funny. It's hilarious. And then there's Mark Wahlberg, who, after his stellar turn in Date Night, may be more preferred in funny roles than dramatic ones (though one could quickly dismiss that since The Fighter came out). Here he plays Ferrell's partner for the NYPD, stuck in an office job because he accidentally shot Derek Jeter at the World Series. With Wahlberg's character despising his job, and Ferrell's completely content with it, McKay has set up two characters he can rely on to keep the audience steadily entertained. Follow that up with a deadly plot that thankfully does not involve narcotics, a perfect, very funny appearance by Samuel l. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, some truly funny parodies of classic cop films, and a flashback revealing that the Ferrell character was in fact a pimp, and you've got yourself the funniest comedy of last year. This is such a good movie and yet my expectations going into it weren't incredibly high. The sea lion sequence, which played so much online that it lost some of its charm, was apparently the only really funny part of the film. And to some that could be true, one because they don't understand the humor, and two, they haven't seen enough cop movies to register what's parody and what's not. And to elaborate on that subject, I don't wish to suggest that this is a parody. It's a police comedy with hints of parody, but also with somewhat multi-layered characters and some really terrific action scenes. McKay actually wanted to be innovative with the action and create some things that were fresh instead of being formulaic, or, maybe even a mockery of the old tricks in the bag. The Other Guys is just about perfect even if it's not something you can expect to like. But with the right sense of humor, and ideally some prior knowledge of stuff like Dirty Harry and Lethal Weapon, the movie will leave you wanting more. And I'm ready to see it again. This really has the making of a classic, if not for everyone, then at least for me.

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