Buddy cop movies are notorious for so many clichés that you’d think the genre would be open to numerous great satires. Films such as “Hollywood Homicide,” “Taxi,” “Showtime,” and most recently Kevin Smith’s “Copout” however, have proven that poking fun at buddy cop movies is easier said than done. Although there have been some successful send-ups of the genre like “Hot Fuzz,” a majority of these movies fall flat because they never decide whether they want to be a lampoon or a flat-out action comedy. Where some of these films have fallen short, “The Other Guys” is a buddy cop comedy that works due to the chemistry of its leads and some hilariously written dialogue.
The movie opens in New York City as two badass hero cops played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson attempt to stop a bunch of robbers. They catch the criminals in a high-speed chase that’s about as probable as the most preposterous scenes in “Wanted” or the two “Bad Boys” movies. Even though their actions cause thousands of dollars in damages, the two cops are still praised as heroes. It’s then revealed that these action stars are not the focus of the movie but rather two desk jockey’s, aka the other guys.
Will Ferrell plays Alan, a nerdy forensic accountant who is forced to carry a wooden training gun, unqualified to operate a real one. His partner is Terry, a once promising, up-and-coming cop who accidentally shot a MLB all-star, played by Mark Wahlberg. While Alan is comfortable at his desk getting picked on by his co-workers, Terry pines to become a hero cop. They get caught up in a crime involving an evil businessman played by Ray Stevenson. I won’t get into that though because it’s the least interesting aspect of the movie.
Ferrell and Wahlberg are about as likely of a pair as Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Yet, they make for an indisputably endearing duo with Ferrell as the sensitive good cop and Wahlberg as the gritty wannabe bad cop. Also funny here is Eva Mendes as Ferrell’s dedicated wife who, despite being glamorous, is treated like an old bag by Alan. After providing the voice of the fashionable and possibly homosexual Ken in “Toy Story 3,” Michael Keaton continues to revive his talent as the police station’s captain who works a second job at Bed Bath & Beyond. In addition there’s a left-field twist involving the characters played by Jackson and Johnson, which I will not reveal for it will ruin the movie’s greatest laugh.
Director Adam McKay, who has worked with Ferrell on several occasions, has crafted a winning buddy cop satire with even more laugh-out-loud moments than his “Step Brothers” and “Talladega Nights” and almost as many as “Anchorman.” There are times when “The Other Guys” almost meanders into “Lethal Weapon” territory and becomes a routine action picture, but the film redeems those needless action sequences with some of the funniest moments of the year. Besides, I guess a couple of chases and explosions in a movie like this are inevitable.
Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org