THE OTHER GUYS
THOUGH Will Ferrell has yet to better 2004’s spoof comedy Anchorman in terms of the goofy humour with which he’s most associated, it’s fair to say that few others have succeeded in that task either. Since then, Ferrell has seemed content subscribing to the “stick to what you’re good at” mantra, teaming up with Anchorman director Adam McKay to produce spoofy comedies at a frequency that means before long the McKay/Ferrell picture might stake a claim as a comedy sub-genre of its own. Here the pair team up again, with all their regular trademarks, adding Mark Wahlberg to the mix and turning their attention to spoofing police-buddy movies. That may be a well-trodden path, but this is very funny nevertheless.
The “other guys” of the title are unlikely cop partners Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) who, confined to menial paper-work, live and work in the shadow of superstar cops Danson and Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). However, discovering there’s more sinister goings-on behind an irregularity in a scaffolding-permit our anti-heroes find themselves embroiled in a big case of their own.
The Other Guys is at its best when Ferrell and Wahlberg play off each other in absurd situations, while Steve Coogan makes a very funny cameo as a villainous businessman intent on vfraud. Unfortunately that annoying requirement of plot development too often gets in the way of all-out freeform fun, though, and one suspects it’s probably the limitations of the police-spoof genre which prevents The Other Guys from fulfilling its full potential. A tired plot about uncovering corruption chugs along, decorated by some hilarious set-pieces. Next time lets hope the McKay/Ferrell partnership opts for a less restrictive and formulaic platform, as theirs is a style of humour that works best unhindered and free to digress.
Jennifer Lawrence turns in a star-making performans as Ree, a 17-year-old supporting her sick mom and younger siblings in Missouri’s back of beyond, in this tense, naturalistic thriller set in the poverty-riddled Midwest. When it emerges that her absent father has used their family home to secure his bail before disappearing, Ree must track him down or find herself and her family homeless. This leads her to dark places as she looks for answers amongst her outlaw kin, who hold a rigid code of silence.
Beautifully shot, the film is a dark, cinematic poem to America’s forgotten interior. It moves at a perfect pace, drawing you slowly and unerringly into its unforgiving, barren world. Comfortably one of the year’s best movies.