The Other Guys (2010)

Rating: B-

Dir: Adam McKay
Star: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Steve Coogan

This is the kind of slick, mindless action-comedy that Hollywood does very well. It’s the cinematic equivalent of cheap Chinese food: it does the job, but 20 minutes later you’ve forgotten what it tasted like. I enjoyed this a fair bit while it was on, but a couple of days later, I’m struggling to remember any of the specifics. It centres on two cops – Allen Gambell (Ferrell) is a desk-jockey forensic accountant, while Terry Holtz (Wahlberg) is unwillingly stuck in the office after accidentally shooting a member of the New York Yankees. When the reigning supercops in the department suffer a tragic fate, Holtz tries to take over, dragging Gambell with him. Their investigation of a missing scaffolding permit eventually leads them toward a multi-billon dollar fraud – the perpetrators of whom are none too happy to be discovered.

McKay and Ferrell deliver a nice deconstruction of the standard cop mythology, playing against type in almost every way – even Gambell’s implausibly-hot wife (Mendes) is seen by him as utterly plain. That’s when the film is most successful; the later sections, the film becomes too close to what it’s parodying, though there is a marvellous, rabble-rousing end-credit sequence which points out the horrific costs of the Wall Street bailout, etc. It’s largely at odds with the rest of the film, feeling like it strayed in from a Michael Moore movie, but I still liked it. While more of that venom would have been welcome, it would be churlish to complain too much: this does exactly what it sets out to do, providing ninety minutes of frothy entertainment, with a more than acceptable number of genuine laughs.