Saturday, 07 August 2010

The Other Guys: Hilarious Satire for Grownup Audiences

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Other Guys posterIf you’re looking for a hilariously inappropriate but original film on which to spend some money, I have three words for you: The Other Guys. In this satirical buddy cop movie, Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg shine, while revealing the humor in the sad realities of today’s economic climate.

Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) could not be more different. Gamble did not seek a police position for the excitement and adventure of police chases and arrests, but for the coziness and safety of a desk job. Hoitz, on the other hand, couldn’t envision a worse existence. But when the two are paired together, they unite through the one thing they have in common: They are both losers with dark, and embarrassing, pasts.

Tired of standing in the shadow of the hyperbolic cop heroes P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson), Hoitz decides to pursue a case that is far more intricate than he could have imagined. Hoitz manages to enlist the help of Gamble, under a small measure of duress.

This mismatched pair must put aside their differences to take down the shady capitalist David Ershon (Steve Doogan), who made a series of bad deals that caused him to be the target of more than just the NYPD. The search for Ershon introduces Hoitz and Gamble to some sketchy characters, particularly those whose investments are at stake, and of course, the United States Security and Exchange Commission.

Can Gamble and Hoitz get it together in time to bring down a multi-billion dollar crime? You’ll have to fork up the $10 to find out.

What I will tell you is the satirical quality of the film is refreshing in that it zeroes in on the very elements I often find to be insulting to my intelligence in cop films. One such element is the ridiculously absurd car chases that often climax with explosions, without any consequences for the police officers who brought about those taxpayer-funded explosions. The Other Guys accurately depicts those scenes, with the humorous addition that the entire expensive car chase came about as a result of pursuing two criminals for a marijuana misdemeanor.

Mark Wahlberg’s character is the emblematic “angry” cop, the token character with a chip on his shoulder who cannot seem to get ahead. Hoitz must forever bear the burden of being the idiotic officer who accidently shot Derek Jeter while guarding the Yankee clubhouse. Like the cops in a variety of bad cop films, Gamble is subject to violent and abrupt outburst that ultimately lead to nothing. Another comical element of this spoof.

The greatest satire in The Other Guys is ironically a very unfortunate reality — that the SEC is invoked to regulate and investigate fiscal responsibility in big firms, when the SEC has embarrassingly failed at that very task in the past, a point of which Officer Gamble kindly reminds moviegoers. The writers of the film did not miss an opportunity to make a subtle dig at Goldman Sachs, either.

Similarly, Ershon is a sardonic character in that he epitomizes the “evil, greedy capitalist” that too often plays the leading role in liberal propaganda that assigns all such evil to the free market.

The film’s humor goes far beyond its satirical nature, too, much of it subtle. While Officer Gamble proves to be an accounting nerd, he finds himself beating the beautiful ladies off with a stick, provoking a bit of jealousy from Hoitz. Officer Hoitz obsessively believes that virtually every crime he pursues is drug-related, a tick that is constantly addressed by Gamble.

Nearly every scene invokes a laugh-out-loud from the crowd.

The film also boasts an impressive cast, aside from Wahlberg, Jackson, Ferrell, and Johnson, including Eva Mendez, Damon Wayans Jr., Michael Keaton, and Rob Riggle, all of whom play minor but amusing roles.

The Other Guys will be a hit with the older crowds but is very clearly not intended for younger audiences. While the movie resisted the urge to include any unnecessary sex scenes, it ran with sexual innuendoes and language.  Likewise, the language is foul throughout, and the explosions of cocaine powder and violent shootouts will likely hinder parents from making The Other Guys a family weekend.

The Other Guys is of the same caliber as writer Adam McKay’s Step Brothers, an equally comical film that allowed Will Ferrell to showcase his comedic abilities in a way that few other films have.

Overall, I would rank it as one of my favorite comedies in recent years.

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