Ed reviews 'The Other Guys'

Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell star in 'The Other Guys.' Submitted photo

Rated PG-13, 3.5 stars

The Other Guys isn't

as laugh out loud funny as I expected from ads for the latest collaboration

between Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Step Brothers, Talladega Nights,

Anchorman). It's amusing throughout and

there are a number of major laughs, but the tone is different than I expected.

The film is a mismatched-cop buddy comedy, but it's not a satire of the genre

– it simply is a mismatched-cop buddy comedy. Didn't expect that.

The set-up: Detective Allen Gamble (Ferrell) is a fussy

forensic-accountant who loves his job and has no interest in working the mean

streets. Detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) is a tough guy trying to rebuild

his career after an outrageous, demoralizing incident that you should learn

about in the film, not here. The two become reluctant partners, squabble, are

the object of derision by other officers, deal with great danger, and so on.

You know the drill.

Here's the surprising part. I liked these characters. I

liked watching an old-fashioned mismatched-cop buddy movie. I liked that the

clunky, overwritten plot was taken seriously. Sure, the mechanics of the case

overtook the film towards the end. Sure, I wish the movie had more big jokes,

but I enjoyed myself.

Hell, I enjoyed Will Ferrell, and I've been tired of him for

a while. This time his character is more restrained.I mean, by Will Ferrell standards. I mean, at no point do

you see his bare ass or fuzzy belly. Grading on a Ferrell curve, that's pretty

good. And his character, ridiculous though he may be, comes off like a human

being and not just a cartoon.

Mark Wahlberg plays off his The Departed persona to good effect, although I worry that if he

keeps furrowing his brow like that, he's going to end up with some scary-ass

wrinkles when he gets older. Incidentally, I saw Wahlberg on Letterman last night and he mentioned that he's 39 years old.

Can you believe that Marky Mark – that little punk – is 39 years

old?

I'm going to be careful as regards the other cast members

– don't want to ruin any funny surprises. Suffice to say that Samuel L.

Jackson and Dwayne Johnson play a pair of super cops, Michael Keaton is the

beleaguered Captain and Steve Coogan plays a slimeball. I'm not going to reveal

what role Eva Mendes plays, although every other reviewer in the country

appears to have done so, but she is very effective in her part.

What else to tell you? You'll enjoy one recurring gag more

if you're familiar with The Little River Band's body of work. Also, co-writer

and director McKay plays a character called Dirty Mike, which was the nickname

for an old pal of mine who now resides in New Orleans.

The bottom line is that The Other Guys isn't "the funniest comedy of the summer" as the ads

allege, but it's an entertaining diversion. Especially during a summer season

so generally crummy that you have to either grade movies on a curve or just

throw your hands up and walk away. That's not a bad idea, either, but if you

want to see a mismatched-cop buddy comedy in a theater, you could do a lot

worse that this.

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