Sunday, August 8, 2010

Reel Rhino Review: THE OTHER GUYS

Tonight, I saw THE OTHER GUYS, the latest offering from Will Farrell and Adam McKay. I have always vowed to steer clear of the witty puns that movie reviewers work so hard every week to craft, but I must say this: I wish instead of the OTHER guys, that I had seen some OTHER movie.

Okay, so as far as plays on words go, it's not excessively clever.  But when I dropped that line on a group of unsuspecting AMC staffers, they loved it...or maybe they were scared into laughing by my hulking demeanor?!  Regardless, I felt compelled to share that with you here.

Let me start by sharing 2 things about the previews at my theater:

FIRST: Yes, I likely go to more movies than your average person, but I am already sick of seeing the trailer for DEVIL.  Yes, it looks interesting and yes, I will definitely see it.  It is a part of the NIGHT CHRONICLES, which is a series of movies produced by M Night Shyamalan.  Night has "Story By" credit here, but the screenwriter is someone else.  I wonder how much this film is about trying to shake the stink of THE HAPPENING and THE LAST AIRBENDER, which by all accounts (including my own) were both terrible. I hope M Night gets his groove back because I am a lover of all things Night from THE SIXTH SENSE right up through LADY IN THE WATER.  The latter of these is my favorite of the bunch (and I stand in a fairly thin crowd on that last statement).  The movie studio SHOULD NOT over-market a film to compensate for past poor performance.

SECOND:  Jackass 3-D = Awesome.  And I don't mean that in some immature boyish way.  When Jackass was a TV show, the tomfoolery was watered down in content...Jackass was intended for R-rated or perhaps even UNRATED presentations.  2006's JACKASS: NUMBER TWO was a welcomed return to the shenanigans and four years later, the physical comedy these guys perform will be both welcomed hilarity and beautifully accentuated by the process of 3-D film making.

Hey, does it seem like I am talking about a lot of other things, besides the movie?  If so, it is intentional.

THE OTHER GUYS starts off with a ten minute parody of everything that's great about action movies.  The Rock and Samuel L Jackson play a couple of seasoned cops, Detectives Danson and Highsmith, who ride the streets hard with a shoot first, take no prisoners attitude.  Remember, I am talking extreme parody here.  Parody to the extent that the Rock ends up driving a NY City tour bus with Samuel L's car stuck across the berth of the passenger area, with Samuel L still at the wheel.  He crashed into the bus and we got the line uttered in the trailer...."Did somebody call nine one holy...."  Not a spoiler, because we saw it in the trailer, and really, not that funny regardless.

I think the parody is well played, but the roles Samuel L and The Rock play are wasted because the rest of the movie falls way short of its potential.

Will Farrell is Allen Gamble and Marky Mark Wahlberg is Terry Hoitz, a pair of partnered Detectives, who are presented in "classic" buddy-cop fashion, polar opposites in demeanor, but each with their own unique "talents" and personality.  Gamble is a bookish desk jockey who spent most of his time on the force as a Forensic Accountant.  Hoitz is a Detective by a shoestring as his past has left him in a position of ridicule.

Michael Keaton was perhaps the lone bright spot as their milquetoast Captain who keeps a watchful eye on these "wacky trouble making other guys."  He was funny and light and while his role had no real meat, I think for what his function is in the flick, he serves it well.

When Danson (The Rock) and Highsmith (Samuel L) become otherwise indisposed, there is a void for a pair of "other guys" to step up and become heroes.  While Hoitz thinks he and Gamble can fit the bill, Rob Riggle and Damon Wayans Jr. have other plans, as a pair of ego-driven smart-ass detectives, who play foil to our leads throughout.  And yes, that is Damon Wayans Jr., who is the spitting image of pops but not yet wielding the comic delivery that Senior always seemed to have.  Riggle is always pleasant, but even his antics were lost in the fray here.

The cast is rounded out by Steve Coogan, who plays David Ershon, a financial guru who is being pursued by pretty much everyone throughout the flick.

Okay, general discussion aside, this film maintains little to no common thread running throughout.  The story is nonsensical and our leads play this much closer to a drama than a comedy, apparently for effect, but sadly not the right one.

To call this a series of skits really doesn't cut it either.  The purpose of a skit is to entertain and there was very little entertainment.  I think the problem is that Farrell is playing it straight, but stupid, and Mark Wahlberg is just playing it straight.  There is no real comedic lead except for a few occasions when the whole tone would shift to something at least TRYING TO BE a comedy.  Eva Mendes plays the wife of Ferrell and scenes with her got a few laughs, but some of the comedy came across as more cruel than comedic.

There is comedy in cruelty sometimes.  Take for example the relationship between Veronica and Ron in Anchorman, right after Veronica is promoted.  We have something that resembles that here but unfortunately THIS MOVIE isn't funny enough to have it play anything but mean.  We find out why later, but it is too late.  And let me say, maybe I am picking now, but I was so wholly unimpressed, it's hard not let a roar out about why I didn't like this.

THE EXPECTATION OF COMEDY IS HIGH GIVEN A FILM WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ADAM MCKAY (caps intentional).  I can't put into words how disappointed I was in this film as a whole (well other than the words in this review).  Even Coogan was kept in check and if only given to view the scenes with him in it, you would have no idea you were watching a comedy! 

Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have given us so much better and I miss that intensely.  Saturday Night Live circa 1995 - 2000 not to mention Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, and Anchorman.  Anchorman is of course the cult classic of the bunch but Step Brothers and Talladega Nights both have their allure as well.

I welcome you to go see this film, but I don't recommend it.  I think that we all have different senses of humor, BUT I do feel as though I am easily entertained, especially by this crew.  If I didn't like it, I think that is really saying something.  

Reel Rhino gives THE OTHER GUYS a 2 out of 5 HORN ranking.  One of my lowest rankings to date and on-par with my expectations for AND disappointment with this film.  Perhaps the most interesting and compelling aspect of this movie ran through the entire credit sequence, when we received a documentary-ish education on the history of financial scams and the thorough ass-pounding we receive on behalf of corporate America. 

I hope that M Night as well as the GARY SANCHEZ PRODUCTION team including McKay and Farrell can turn things around.  Is it possible that Farrell has expended his comedic value and should look to shift to more dramatic roles?  I really enjoyed STRANGER THAN FICTION and I think that Farrell is talented and needs to evolve to keep happy the American film going public, if not laughing.

Next up, who knows...there are slim pickings out there for now, but I will say, I can't wait for Friday, when I have an appointment to see how SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD turns out.  Again, my hopes are high!

Till later, take care......RR

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