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“The Other Guys” Channels All the Right Buddy Cop Clichés

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Posted on August 9 2010 12:00 pm

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The type of comedy that Will Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay are known for is exactly what film professors teach us not to like. Before showing a film, I had a professor once tell the class, “trust me, it will be better than the next Will Ferrell disaster.” It is the same snobbery that pushes film critics to throw fire at such a movie. However, after opening night, The Other Guys has an 80 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes which is nice to see, although I fully expect it to drop.

While comedy is likely the most subjective of all film genres, there is something to be said about the work of Ferrell and McKay. Even when they aren’t together, their less popular material is still better than most of what’s out there. Very few filmmakers can rival McKay short of Judd Apatow in this department (although Todd Phillips is on his way). Their work doesn’t fade over the years, as we still laugh at Anchorman, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and even Old School. McKay’s latest, The Other Guys, has its finger on the pulse of the buddy cop sub-genre in a way that will leave you wondering why this film wasn’t made sooner.

Celebrity detectives Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) are the center of attention in the NYPD. These hot shots represent the action-junkie cops that get their job done but only by wrecking half of the city in the process (if you are wondering why this sounds familiar see Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, etc). After an action-packed opening sequence, we get a narration from none other than Ice-T introducing us to the cast of characters.

After meeting most of the department we finally get to “the other guys,” Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). Allen obnoxiously looks up to the super cops, and Terry is still dealing with his accidental shooting of Derek Jeter (“you should have shot A-Rod,” a fellow officer shouts). Terry is always looking for the next call to action while Allen, who drives a Prius, is perfectly happy being confined to a desk. This clash of desires (as well as character) is what drives the film and lends itself to many laugh-out-loud moments.

Allen is constantly reprimanded for digging into a builder’s lack of scaffolding permits by their Captain (played by Michael Keaton) who constantly quotes TLC unknowingly. It turns out, however, that Allen’s investigation leads him to a greedy capitalist (I know, yawn) David Ershon (Steve Coogan) who is in the middle of a much bigger ponzi scheme. Allen and Terry are forced to go behind the captain’s back in order to find out what is really going on.

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