I miss Michael Keaton. Aside from BATMAN and BEETLEJUICE, Keaton has never attained superstar status, which is a crying fucking shame. There is no denying his likability and he’s appealing in the same way that Vince Vaughn appeals to audiences. Unfortunately, Keaton has mostly disappeared during the past decade, but he’s cited by many film geeks as one of the few actors deserving of a comeback. Perhaps he’s heard the cry of his fans because this summer alone he’s been in two films albeit he only provided voice for one of them (Keaton voices ‘Ken’ in TOY STORY 3). The other is this past weekend’s release, THE OTHER GUYS. Now I really really wanted to like this movie. Although I’ve only seen one Adam McKay/Will Ferrell collaboration (ANCHORMAN), I was enough of a fan of that first movie and of Ferrell’s humor for this movie to peak my interest. Well, I don’t know what the hell the critics were smoking to drive the Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film to 79%, but THE OTHER GUYS was nowhere near as funny as the marketing had led me to believe.

The basic premise of THE OTHER GUYS is a bit uninspired. I mean I know spoofing the 80s buddy action movie was covered in HOT FUZZ, but that had fucking Simon Pegg and it was directed by fucking Edgar Wright so c’mon now. Anyway, this film is about two NYC detectives who fall in love licking each other’s assholes while handcuffed to each other in the back row of a children’s matinee of THE LION KING. Ok, just kidding. Its not about that at all, but that’s the sick, twisted humor I wish this film had. Seriously, its about two NYC detectives who are unwittingly partnered together. They are the absolute antithesis to the testosterone balls-to-the-wall bad-asses personified by such classic 80s action buddy cops like Mel Gibson/Danny Glover and Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte (in this movie its Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Will Ferrell is a forensics accountant and Mark Wahlberg is a disgraced officer with major anger management issues and who accidentally shot Derek Jeter in the leg during the World Series and has now been relegated to a desk job along with Ferrell. Wahlberg completely hates his job, but Ferrell loves it and is oblivious to the fact that he and Wahlberg are the butt of everyone’s jokes in the department. In fact, Ferrell lives in his own little happy bubble, which infuriates his partner. When the superstar cops of the department (Jackson and The Rock) are killed in action one day, Wahlberg and Ferrell decide to step up and prove themselves to the department that they can be real cops. They investigate a white collar crime ring, a la Bernard Madoff, that Ferrell has uncovered and that’s led by a sorta funny British guy who I’ve never seen before but I’m sure he’s famous for some BBC show. Michael Keaton, by the way, plays the police captain.

This film isn’t one of McKay and Ferrell’s better ideas. There are some funny elements to the story (like Ferrell’s pimp background, which is hilarious), but overall I was surprised by how little of the film made me laugh. ANCHORMAN had the comic arsenal of Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Fred Willard, David Koechner, and a classic and awesome cameo by Ben Stiller. This film…not so much. Aside from Michael Keaton, you don’t have much else supporting Will Ferrell. Wahlberg does a so-so job, but his angry, shouting tirades get old after awhile and the film ultimately relies completely on Ferrell, but even Ferrell fails to provide a lot of laughs. Ferrell’s character is sort of like a more reserved version of his character in ELF. He’s less zany this time and I seem to remember his serious moments more than his humorous ones. There are a few wacky moments peppered throughout the film, but they aren’t nearly enough. The core attributes that make up his character are simply not very funny, especially when you compare him to his past characters in ANCHORMAN and ELF. I saw Ferrell as just another normal, boring person who can be funny at times.

I don’t expect these types of films to have involving plotlines on the scale of INCEPTION, but I do like them to have something resembling a pin drop of a plot. I can’t even begin to tell you what the fuck the underlying white collar storyline is even remotely about. I like to consider myself a somewhat intelligent person, but the storyline here was convoluted to the point that 5 seconds into listening to the characters trying to explain what was going on, I turned my brain off and decided to remain content with accepting it as a mindless and storyless comedy. I will say that the villain (Steve Coogan) of the movie is quite funny and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him. Apparently he’s a famous TV actor in the UK so I might have to check some of his shit out.

Lately I have also noticed many trailers that contain scenes and lines not contained in the theatrical release. For the most part I have not minded the discrepancy. I understand that different takes are used for the trailer for marketing purposes and so I’ve come to accept this. However, for the first time in my life, I was fucking pissed when my favorite part of the trailer, the part that totally sold me on the movie, was MISSING from the movie! In the trailer, there is a scene where Wahlberg and Ferrell are playing ‘good cop/bad cop.’ Wahlberg roughs up the villain, which causes the villain to think that Ferrell will be nicer to him. Ferrell then goes into a rampage and starts to scream like a woman in the villain’s face. Every time I have seen this trailer in a theater, the audience has erupted into laughter. Well, if you have not yet seen THE OTHER GUYS, let me be the bearer of bad tidings and inform you that this particularly uproarious scene is not in the film (the scene is still funny, but not as much as it could have been).

So there you have it. I wouldn’t call THE OTHER GUYS a horrible film (I reserve that judgment for last week’s DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS), but its certainly not up to the standard of Will Ferrell’s older films. I was ready to laugh my ass off and I ended up instead sitting through the film with a Mona Lisa smile (assuming you subscribe to the theory that Mona Lisa looks happy and not angry or sad like some art historians ERRONEOUSLY think) that rarely turned into a laugh. Rent it or don’t, you’re not missing much here.

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