Pardon the analogy, but Cop Out did to police movies what BP did to the Gulf coast. It took perfectly good actors and polluted them with brainless dialogue and a plot with more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. But if Cop Out was the oil spill that contaminated cop comedy, then The Other Guys is the cleanup. Fueled by a script written by Chris Henchy and long-time Will Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay, The Other Guys offers 107 minutes of sidesplitting mayhem. It won’t win over audiences the way last year’s The Hangover did, but for the most part, hilarity ensues.
Will Ferrell is Allen Gamble, a New York detective with a background in forensic accounting. Despite Allen’s warm demeanor and desire to improve the community he earns less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. Officer Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) sits across from Allen at the station, and due to accidently shooting a prominent athlete, doesn’t get to do real police work. Tired of sitting on the sidelines, Allen and Terry seek to earn admiration from the police force. And when they stumble on a case that could end up being one of the biggest crimes in New York, Allen and Terry realize they finally have an opportunity to make a name for themselves.
Their biggest obstacle, however, isn’t the criminal they try to pursue. It’s each other. Allen and Terry’s personalities clash like water and oil — Allen’s composed nature is consistently challenged by Terry’s irascibility. But when they are together, it’s difficult to tell who will erupt first: Terry, or the audience with laughter.
A key reason why The Other Guys works is because of the story. It is a zany one. Just imagine taking all the clichés that go into a comedy and throwing them out the window. In addition, the film’s pace is that of a police chase, and audiences watching will surely be thrown for a loop by the film’s relentless twists and turns.
But it’s the actors that lead this law-enforcement laugh fest. Mark Wahlberg is known for his action roles rather than comedy, but his portrayal of irate Terry can’t be missed. Terry’s aggression makes the movie that much sillier, and his character’s amusing volatility turns The Other Guys into a full-fledged farce.
Michael Keaton, fresh off his role of Ken in Toy Story 3, is uproarious as Allen and Terry’s captain. I won’t reveal the details here, but his character plays a key part in one of the best running gags all year.
And then there’s Will. If there’s one person who deserves credit for making The Other Guys one of the few enjoyable summer comedies, it’s Will Ferrell. It is no question that Ferrell is a seasoned veteran in the field of comedy, and his experience proves to be his biggest asset: The Other Guys breathes new life into the cop comedy canon, and is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise unfunny summer. It almost makes up for Cop Out. Almost.