Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Other Guys

I Hope to make this a fast-paced, yet thoroughly in-depth and entertaining review, for I've got about an hour before I have to make time for my next assignment (The Special Relationship). Anyway, here we have on our hands The Other Guys, a buddy-cop action-comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as two leads. To give a quick run-up in context, I am somewhere in a neutral middle with regards to Will Ferrell as a comedian, for I do find that as much as he has done some good stuff such as Anchorman, he has also done some really poor such as Land Of The Lost, giving me the apt catchphrase in my Ferrell impersonation, "I'm Will Ferrell and I'm loud and fat and I wear various assorted wigs and moustaches and speak in a very funny and stupid (pronounced "stoopid") voice. Also, whilst I do think Wahlberg is a talented man, he has really mad some rubbish work, with The Happening and Max Payne coming to mind. So, basically my point is I went into this film wanting to like this, but was also faced with ambiguities in case it ended being another assembly line comedy. In The Other Guys, Ferrell and Wahlberg play Detectives Allen Gamble, a forensics accountant who is more interested in desk work than field work, and Terry Hoitz, a detective with a bad temper who has been assigned to desk work with Allen after shooting baseball player Derek Jeter at the World Series. After an opportunity arises (I won't spoil, it's a really funny gag), Allen and Terry are presented with solving a case involving multi-billionaire David Erschon, played by Steve Coogan. Key to the reasons that the film works in the parts that it does is unquestionably Adam McKay's presence as the writer-director on the project. Having worked with Ferrell on three previous occasions on Anchorman, Talagedda Nights and Step Brothers, he is a skilful writer who also seems to be able to get the best out of his actors, particularly in the case of Ferrell. The script, co-written with Chris Menchy, is snappy and laced with some edgy and genuinely funny dialogue exchanges and set pieces during the course of the film. The two as writers really seem to play around with a really good balance of light and dark humour, with certain "frat" humour in familiar territory coming in certain places in the film, although by no means is it overindulgent in this sense. Ferrell's Gamble being assigned with a wooden gun after misusing his own brings for much hilarity throughout the film. However, there is also some really dark and black humour in different points at the movie which is executed really well, not least "the opportunity" that arises which I have made reference to. Also, in terms of casting, this is an all-round terrific comic cast of actors. Ferrell delivers what I feel to be one of his finest performances as Gamble. Playing the "straight guy" in the buddy comedy sense, Ferrell shows great restraint and highlights the eccentricities of his character at the moments when most appropriate and in doing so is really funny. Did I enjoy it because of his restraint? I'm not sure, but maybe so. Wahlberg too is equally good as Terry Hoitz, holding up his end of the buddy comedy formula as the "the mad guy" really well. His Hoitz is a cop with a bad attitude, but in a good way that parodies the entire "bad cop" routine of these types of films. His character, desk-bound, expresses himself in often horribly and uncomfortably funny abusive ways, more often than not at Allen's expense, because of his wish to, in his own words, "fly like a peacock." Wahlberg portrays this loose cannon brilliantly. Also of note are Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. (Mothafuckin') Jackson as supercops Danson and Highsmith. In these really good supporting performances, they exemplify in a very hilarious manner the excesses and absurdity of many of the buddy-cop comedy films of this genre. The Jack-Swagger (anyone get the reference, it's a new nickname I've given arrogant, big-headed types) arrogance and bravado on display by the two is insane and come off with more funny bits of dialogue and set pieces in their scenes than a good few comedies do in their entire running time. However, the best supporting performance in the film perhaps belongs to Michael Keaton as their police captain Gene Mauch. Having already shone in a great vocal performance as Ken in Toy Story 3 only a few months ago, Keaton has had a really good year and proves himself time and again that he is a great actor.

P.S I stopped at this point last night, as I can never make deadlines and went down to watch The Special Relationship, review due in course.

Oliver Wood shoots a good film as cinematographer, making it look both really high-budgeted and spectacular whilst keeping it firmly entrenched in the realm of comedy/parody, the parody elements of which are enhanced by the little saxophone flourishes by Jon Brion, bringing to mind a lot of late '80s American action films and John Woo's Hong Kong Work. However, while The Other Guys works on a good few different levels, it is not without its problems. For starters, whilst the script is laced with brilliant dialogue and set-pieces, the story of the film has no real emotion due to the fact that underneath all of the comedic genius involved, it's a very simplistically structured film. This is your typical, uninventive and unoriginal screenplay manual structure that does not really attempt to do anything really interesting with the plot. It's all very murder-by-numbers with your introduction, turmoil and redemption. Not to spoil the movie, but it is obvious from the start where it is going, and there are a number of jokes where you do know where they are going or where you just sigh in frustration at their lack of genuine intelligence. Also, tonally I think there are problems with the film. On occasion, it does not seem to know whether it is a parody in the Naked Gun sense of the word, or if they are going for black humour, or the frat humour seen in the films involving McKay and Ferrell. It tries to infuse elements of these, but does not balance them out well enough to make it seem like a stronger piece. Don't get me wrong, the light and dark humour works well together, but once the parody and self-referential elements start to work their way in, it just becomes stupid and unfunny. What The Other Guys needs to do is remain a self-existing entity of a film, as opposed to being a pop-culture phenomenon, bringing me on to my next point. I'm not sure if this makes the film any worse by any means, but it seems as though they are putting themselves on a leash to make it get a 12A certificate in order to get a larger box-office and wider audience. As any of you who follow this know, I am not a moral philanderer in the sense of appropriate age certificates, but this film really pushes the 12A certificate to the limit. With drug references, pretty dirty humour and swearing, it still feels like a film that is restrained by the 12A certificate as opposed to being allowed much more freedom on the 15 certificate. I saw young children of about seven and eight in the cinema, and I can tell you that they are either the smartest kids in the world or they simply did not get most of the jokes in the film and simply laughed along like I used to when I watched Friends at that age. It does very well inside the 12A certificate, but with the 15 certificate I just feel that they could have done so much more and that the film is 1) inappropriate for children - I don't care, their your children not mine and 2) they won't get it. So, my verdict on The Other Guys is that while certainly it is of a superior brand of comedy, boasted some solid writing and great performances from the cast, alongside good cinematography and music, it is structured in a very base and simplistic manner which demeans the overall hilarity of the piece when distracted by this problem, along with problems arising tonally. Whether the questions regarding the 12A certificate is anyone’s ball-game, for I felt they worked well in the restriction, although it could have been so much more. It felt like an advertising teaser for the film or a stripped version of a far funnier film.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.9/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Amused (by the film's best gag, the "gag" that presents The Other Guys their opportunity for serious work)


Danland - Movies said...

Told ya it would be good you mook, good review man

The Thin White Dude said...

Merci beaucoux, what four months down the line. Shows how much attention I pay to my blog!