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The Other Guys: A Slapstick Re-telling of the Life of Bernie Madoff

By Megan Lane · August 9, 2010

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Before we talk about anything, can we please address how fantastic the trailer for the Facebook movie is?  I have no idea whether or not the actual film will be good, but I definitely want to see it.  And the fact that Justin Timberlake is in it actually makes me want to see it more.  There I said it.

Okay, back to the topic at hand.  If you look at my past reviews for this site, you can see that I hate (or at least dislike) about 75% of the movies that I see.  Even though those films are much more fun to review, it tends to get old spending my time and money every week seeing movies that I don’t like.  That’s why, when it came time to pick my movie for this week, I settled on Middle Men.

Like the Facebook movie, the trailer is absolutely fantastic and I feel of all the movies released this week, this one gave me the best chance of walking away with a positive, albeit less snarky, review to write.  That being said, Preston got to it first.  So after promising he’d buy me something pretty, I went and saw The Other Guys.  And you know what, Preston?  Hang onto your money (unless you already boughtthe gift, then you should just give it to me), it was hysterical and totally worth my time and hard earned dough.

The Other Guys follows two cops, Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Chris Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) as they try to step up and solve a huge case against billionaire David Ershon (Steve Coogan).  While Gamble is perfectly comfortable at his desk filling out paperwork, Hoitz pushes him to take some risks and the two mismatched detectives have to work together to save the day.

The McGuffin, the case itself, doesn’t actually make much sense, it has something to do with finance and there may have been a Ponzi-type scheme involved.  However, it doesn’t really matter.  A McGuffin is that it doesn’t have to make sense; it’s just a means for character growth and development and in the case of this film, funny jokes.

The Other Guys definitely surpassed my expectations.  Lately, it has felt as if Will Ferrell has been taking jokes just a little too far, acting a little too wacky and creating characters that were a little too off the wall.  However, his performance in this film was almost understated in a way.  The joke wasn’t just him yelling something inappropriate as loud as he could.  There were times when he was even the straight man and it was refreshing to see.  It felt like the gang was back together again; and Ferrell is back on top.

Mark Wahlberg, who is typically more of an action hero, kept up with comedy giants Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay just fine and I’m looking forward to seeing him take on more comedic roles in the future.

The writing by Adam McKay and Chris Henchy was hysterical, but there were so many little gags, the audience is never sure what direction it’s heading.  On top of that, there were several jokes that were simply never followed up on and didn’t make sense with the story.  For example, in one scene Hoitz tries to get back together with his ex by making fun of male ballet dancers and actually performing ballet himself.  Even though I was almost falling out of my seat laughing, the scene had no context within the rest of the film. Because there was such a large variety of jokes, the tone and genre were somewhat uneven.  At the beginning, the film appears to be spoof, making fun of action movies.  However, by the middle, the film is making great statements about our country’s financial state.  What was the theme?  I’m still not sure.

Still, these problems were more than made up for with excellent direction, writing and acting and I would definitely recommend seeing the movie despite its shortcomings.  Who would I be if I didn’t have something bad to say?

The one true criticism I have is of the ending credits.  Yes, I see the weird face you made as you read that last sentence.  Was the font weird?  Was there something wrong with the music choice?  No.  For some reason, the filmmakers thought wise to sprinkle in small facts about the stock market, executive salaries and Bernie Madoff.  I guess the McGuffin had something to do with the stock market, but really? It made no sense and was weird enough to make me like the movie a little less.  Needless to say, this light comedy turned into a Michael Moore movie very quickly.  The tag after the credits is not worth this educational spin-off.  Just go home.

Basically, if you like the Adam McKay/Will Ferrell team, you will love this movie, despite its shortcomings.  Still the humor is not for everyone.  If you are my mom, you should probably skip this one and go see The Kids Are All Right.