‘Other Guys’ spoofs famous cop dramas

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David Wiens / Washburn Review

    I will admit that the prospect of sitting through another movie starring Will Ferrell was hardly an intriguing one.

Granted, he had done some great work up to and including “Anchorman,” but when he played essentially the same character for “Talladega Nights,” “Blades of Glory,” and “Semi-Pro” I had grown pretty sick of him. However, when I found out Ferrell was not playing a mildly talented yet incredibly arrogant simpleton my interest was piqued.

“The Other Guys” is the latest in a long line of films attempting to lampoon the buddy cop genre, but unlike most, it actually follows through.

While many comedy movies poking fun at the over-the-top violence of the genre wind up imitating it more than mocking it, “The Other Guys” just drinks from an open can of whoop-ass rather than trying to down it all in the last thirty minutes of the movie. Because of this, they get a lot more laughs out of the final act than they would have if they’d used it all trying to ramp up the action.

Will Ferrell plays Allen Gamble, a gullible pencil-pusher who ends up doing other detectives’ paperwork for them. Terry Hoitz, played by Mark Wahlberg, is Gamble’s short-tempered partner longing for the action and glory that his co-workers receive.

When Hoitz finally drags Gamble out of the office, Gamble still insists on pursuing David Ershon, portrayed by Steve Coogan, on a failure to apply for proper scaffolding permits. Ershon, as it turns out, is a billionaire investment tycoon who is about to scam some poor suckers out of 75 billion dollars to pay off another company to whom he owes money.

Ferrell’s disarmingly offbeat character is not much of a stretch from that of his characters during his SNL days, but the fact that he has played the arrogant dunce so often during the past few years actually makes his performance here quite effective. Wahlberg, after having played a detective in quite a few other movies, gives a nuanced performance to what easily could have been a flat character.

Although many would see it as a shortcoming, what I most admired about “The Other Guys” was that it never tried to push the emotional tension to the forefront of the storyline; a lot of comedies will intensify the emotional stakes between characters to elicit sympathy or manufacture a greater sense of importance and more often than not it kills the momentum of the plot. When Hoitz and Gamble argue, or when Gamble’s job interferes with his marriage it still plays more comical than dramatic.

I would hardly call “The Other Guys” one of the funniest movies I have seen this year, but it is the funniest cop spoof I have seen since “Hot Fuzz.”