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The Other Guys

The Other Guys

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE fourth cinematic collaboration between Will Ferrell and Adam McKay is arguably their funniest yet – and that’s saying something about a partnership that has already delivered Anchorman, Step Brothers and Talladega Nights.

But The Other Guys is an affectionate homage to the buddy cop movies of days gone by that delivers both in the laughter and action stakes, while making the most of a truly great cast.

Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play the other guys of the film’s title, two decent cops who are forced to live in the shadow of their superior officers Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and Highsmith (Samuel L Jackson) until the day that they are forced to take the limelight themselves.

To do so, they must expose and build a strong enough case against a corrupt businessman (Steve Coogan) who may be about to rip off the Lottery… as well as win over the scepticism of their boss (Michael Keaton) and colleagues.

To be fair, as timely as having a corporate businessman as the main villain of the piece is, plot plays second fiddle to the gags, which fly thick and fast. McKay knows where the fun lies and seldom misses a trick to exploit it, even if it means that certain gags recur three or four times throughout the generous running time.

He’s blessed, however, by a cast that’s clearly on top of their game. Wahlberg’s frustrated detective plays off Ferrell’s nerdy desk-jockey really well, showcasing previously untapped comedy chops and improvising as effortlessly as Ferrell (witness their lion versus tuna back and forth as an early example).

Eva Mendes is both endearingly sweet and jaw-droppingly beautiful as Ferrell’s wife, Michael Keaton is a blast as the cops’ boss, and Johnson and Jackson are clearly having fun in glorified cameos.

If there’s criticisms, Coogan is perhaps an odd choice for villain given that he’s asked to play it straight for much of the time, while Damon Wayans and Rob Riggle are under-employed as two detective rivals. There’s also a noticeable shift from comedy towards action after the film’s first hour, after which some of the jokes threaten to run out of steam.

But McKay maintains the film’s momentum by calling on the skills of director of photography Oliver Wood, a veteran of the Bourne movie trilogy, who adds extra muscle to the set pieces.

Hence, the film also functions as a highly impressive action vehicle, with a three-way car chase between cars, bikes and helicopters one of several standout sequences.

As with past Ferrell/McKay collaborations, the film also boasts a high quote-back factor, with several of the put-downs and exchanges guaranteed to be picked up and recycled by appreciative audiences for some time to come.

True, there’s a mean spiritedness to many of the one-liners and jokes, but that kind of adds to the appeal as well… with The Other Guys avoiding the need to become overly sentimental, even as the leading duo work out their differences and learn to appreciate each other’s ‘skills’.

The overall result is a brilliantly realised homage to the likes of 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon and Midnight Run that – even at almost two hours – doesn’t outstay its welcome, and which provides near-perfect Friday night multiplex entertainment for anyone who feels like giving their inner idiot a night on the town.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 107mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 24, 2011