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Teen Review: ‘The Other Guys’

Another Collaboration from the Comedy Team of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay

Above: Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are "The Other Guys."

"The Other Guys” (opening August 6 throughout San Diego) comes fresh from the comedy team of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

Now, I know a lot of you have probably heard of the first guy but that second name may induce head scratching. However, even if you haven’t heard of Mr. McKay, I’m quite certain you know his work, as he is the man responsible for some of Mr. Ferrell’s most beloved big-screen outings. Together, their resume includes “Anchorman," “Talladega Nights," and “Step Brothers." So in this latest outing, they do tio the cop buddy genre what they have already done to San Diego News, Nascar, and sibling rivalry.

Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson are the "guys" cop action films are usually about.

Columbia Pictures

Above: Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson are the "guys" cop action films are usually about.

The movie opens in the middle of a huge downtown car chase between some nefarious bad guys in black cars with machine guns, and two of the roughest, toughest cops you’ve ever seen, as played by Dwayne (formerly “The Rock”) Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. The film is quick to point out that the movie we’re about to watch isn’t about these two men but rather its focus lays squarely on… well, the other guys, as played by Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

Ferrell's and Wahlberg’s characters are not the kind of cops you’d find in a high-speed pursuit. You'd be more apt to find them filling out paper work concerning said high-speed pursuit. But, of course, this wouldn’t be much of a movie if the two didn’t find their way into some action. Soon enough, what begins as a suspicious case revolving around a scaffolding permit blows up into full-blown big business dirty dealing featuring squads of hit men, kidnapping, bribes, and a smooth-talking business exec (Steve Coogan).

Well, now that you’ve got the set-up on this one, the question remains, is it any good? Where does it fall in the pantheon of the Ferrell-McKay filmography? Is it better than “Anchorman”? Can anything be better than “Anchorman”? Well it's kinda, better than “Talladega” but not as good as the other two.

Eva Mendes and Will Ferrell make an unlikely couple in "The Other Guys."

Columbia Pictures

Above: Eva Mendes and Will Ferrell make an unlikely couple in "The Other Guys."

The film is essentially a series of mostly funny bits and sketches crammed into a fairly uninvolving and occasionally plodding story. Ferrell, as always, holds his own and makes the best out of even the most dried up of material. Meanwhile, Wahlberg plays the straight man for the most part, setting Ferrell up and providing dry, hysterical reactions. When the film keeps with this dynamic, it works well enough. But the film is actually at its best when indulging its more random impulses. Take, for instance, the running joke about Eva Mendes as Ferrell’s wife being described as “plain” and “looking like a hobo.” Or a montage of Coogan bribing the two cops with tickets to the Knicks game and Jersey Boys. Of course, following random impulses is rarely if ever a completely good thing, and there are places in this film that demonstrate how this approach can also fail.

In a year that I’ve repeatedly called to task for its tendency to underwhelm, this film offers a breath (as small a one as it is) of fresh air. Far from perfect -- and feeling long even with a 90-minute running time -- “The Other Guys” still manages to succeed in what it set out to do: make me laugh. I sometimes laughed even harder than I expected. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever watch this movie all the way through again in my lifetime, but if you’re looking for something to see, and especially if you’re a fan of what Ferrell and McKay have put forth before, I say give “The Other Guys” a try. Unless you haven’t seen “Toy Story 3” or “Inception” yet, in which case, stop reading this damn review and go see those films now!

"The Other Guys" is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material.

-Michael Shymon just finished his freshman year at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where he's studying Film & Television Production. He's hoping one day all this movie watching will finally pay off. While he's home for summer break in San Diego, he'll be resuming his duties as a KPBS Teen Critic.

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