The Other Guys is another of those films that can’t seem to make up its mind about itself. Is it an action thriller, a buddy movie, a cop drama, a comedy or an exposé of corporate wrongdoing and manipulation?
Or is it a combination of all of the above, never quite landing solidly in any category?
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell play Terry Hoitz and Allan Gamble, partners on the New York city police force. They’re junior detectives with radically different temperaments, who are thrown together but don’t have much in common. Hoitz aspires to climb the ladder, and is impressed by the bravado of the force’s more aggressive members.
When a particular duo of macho-cops meet their untimely end, Hoitz figures that he and his partner have a shot at replacing them. But partner Gamble wants nothing to do with such aspirations. He’s strictly a paper-pusher, who is happy working in the force’s forensic accounting division.
When Hoitz tries to be the first on the scene for a shooting alert, his partner wants instead to go after a building project that’s violated the scaffolding bylaw. When the violation turns out to be the tip of the iceberg, expanding into a network of corporate fraud, the plot-line takes on a different spin, and that’s where the film starts to lose us.
Steve Coogan plays David Ershon, the corporate swindler and stock manipulator. An interesting character, he’s suave and persuasive, with a refined British accent and manner that makes him look a bit like David Frost.
Gamble also is not quite what he seems. We learn that in his college days he was hardly the mild-mannered accountant type that he now personifies, and periodically this side of him breaks out, but it never seems quite believable. Wahlberg’s character, for his part, remains constantly angry, and it rapidly gets pretty tiresome.
Director Adam McKay has a cameo role as the leader of Dirty Mike and the boys, a band of homeless vagrants who stage an all-night orgy in Gamble’s Prius when it’s stolen.
The Other Guys has displaced Inception from the top of the box office heap in its opening weekend, and it’s difficult to understand why.
There were parts where I felt myself becoming highly irritated by this film, and not able to quite put my finger on the reason why. Part of it was the usual round of car chases and shoot-em-ups which the film begins with and maintains.
Another part of it was the loutish behaviour evinced by cop culture, and the way cops behave toward each other. I felt irritated by the anger constantly displayed by the Mark Wahlberg character.
The film had its moments, thanks mostly to a brilliantly underplayed and genuinely funny performance by Ferrell, but they were unfortunately few and far between.
On the whole, The Other Guys is uneven and poorly paced, and hardly worth the bother.
The Other Guys plays at 7:00 and 9:15 p.m. at the Qwanlin Cinema, and is rated PG for coarse and sexual language.