Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Other Guys (2010) **

The thing is, you either like Will Ferrell or you don’t. I find him tedious. I can’t say that he has never made me laugh, but his specialty seems to be to do something that is funny for one second, and stretch it out to one minute. His humor shifts tone in ways that I find ugly. If he finds himself doing something that is actually funny, he moves it into some dark place, just to see if the audience will keep laughing. That problem with tone pervades “The Other Guys,” a movie that has a hard time figuring out what kind of comedy it is going to be.

Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play a couple of cops. They aren’t cool, swaggering cops who catch and kill bad guys in big chase sequences. They are “the other guys,” the desk-jockeys who fill out the paperwork. Wahlberg’s character is chained to a desk because of a mistaken shooting. Ferrell’s character just likes to do paperwork. They finally get out on the street and chase some bad guys when the paperwork puts them on the trail of a Ponzi scheme. In between there’s a lot of ineptly done character development, including a running joke about how Ferrell’s character thinks his gorgeous wife (Eva Mendes) is plain-looking.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I even thought this movie would be worth watching, and the answer is Mark Wahlberg. There’s just something about the guy. I used to think he just played the same character in every movie, but over the years he has won me over. Unfortunately, Wahlberg’s charm is not enough to save this movie.

“The Other Guys” is not completely without laughs. There’s a funny bit where a couple of cops convince Ferrell’s character that in order to fit in he needs to “accidentally” fire his gun inside the station, which they call a “desk pop.” Ferrell screaming, “I need an MRI. I need an MRI.” after an explosion is pretty hilarious as well. Mostly, though, the movie features Ferrell on an entirely too-long leash, going all over the place with his shtick while the film lurches from one nonsensical scene to another. If you find it while flipping through channels in a hotel, it might be worth sitting through, but otherwise, give it a skip.

2 stars out of 5

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