Maybe it’s the remake/reboot/sequel fatigue that’s setting in, but it seems as though this summer has lacked a memorable mainstream comedy, like last year’s "The Hangover." After the sour aftertaste of "Dinner for Schmucks," I was wary walking into "The Other Guys," a buddy cop spoof starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It was either that or "Step Up 3D." What would you have picked?
It seems like I made the better choice this time. Finally, an actual comedy! The movie is loaded with endlessly quotable lines, like "I’m a peacock and you have to let me fly!" and "I feel like I’m working with the Hulk!" The chemistry and timing between the cast is impeccable, which only shows us how much fun they are having with their roles.
The film, directed by longtime Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay ("Talledega Nights" and "Anchorman"), features a plot that is as generic as every buddy cop formula used in the genre since "48 Hours" — mild-mannered cop Allen (Ferrell) and angry cop Terry (Wahlberg) take on a case to prove their manliness and respect against the shadow of "Tango and Cash" hero cops (played here by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, in self-winking macho mode).
The hilarity here is in the details. Allen actually idolizes the supercops and is satisfied being a desk jockey. Allen is so out of place and out of touch, he belongs in the 50s. He doesn’t even realize how gorgeous his wife is. Terry, on the other hand, is angry he’s been relegated to desk duties because he accidentally shot Derek Jeter of the Yankees. Here, Terry is the straight man, completely bewildered by his partner’s behavior. The banter between these two characters is almost priceless.
The rest of the supporting cast is just as entertaining. Rob Riggles and Damon Wayans Jr. playing wannabe officers trying fill in the supercops’ shoes (Jackson and Johnson’s exit from the film is one for the capsule); Michael Keaton (possibly the best supporting character in the film, he nearly steals the film from the leads) as the police chief who also moonlights as a manager for Bed, Bath and Beyond; Eva Mendes as Allen’s loving and obedient wife; and Steve Coogan (not as funny here as I had hoped) as a Bernie Madoff-type, whose bad investments are catching up to him.
The film threatens to fall apart when political and social commentary are inserted into the film, along with a few flat jokes (Allen’s true past) and choppy action scenes. The end credits may be informative, but it belongs in a different movie like "Wall Street." "The Other Guys" works best when the self-aware characters are riffing off one another. Ferrell and Wahlberg are an unexpected comedic dream and given this past weekend’s box office tally, I’m sure there will be a reunion, or worse, a sequel in the horizon.