Director Adam McKay and actor Will Ferrell have already proved to be a superb big-screen double act with such hits as Anchorman and Talladega Nights. Following the rather less successful Step Brothers, the pair returned to cinemas last year with The Other Guys, a bombastic, endearingly ridiculous send-up of buddy-cop movies such as Lethal Weapon.
Danson and Highsmith (a perfectly cast Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson) are New York’s toughest alpha male cops, and famous for their daring crime fighting abilities and an uncanny knack for destroying entire buildings in the process.
Lurking in the background, meanwhile, are the Other Guys of the title, Gamble and Hoitz (Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg). Chained to their desks and filling out paperwork, they do all the mundane, unglamorous work while Danson and Highsmith are out on the streets, breaking things.
But when New York’s finest police partnership is suddenly (and hilariously) put out of action, there’s suddenly an opening for a new pair of heroic law enforcers to fill, and Gamble and Hoitz – one willingly, the other reluctantly – shuffle into the foreground.
Like most of McKay and Ferrell’s comedies, even their very best one, Anchorman, The Other Guys is full of isolated moments of brilliance rather than sustained amusement. The plot, which concerns a crooked billionaire (Steve Coogan), groups of Chechen and Nigerian capital investors, a wooden gun, and a group of randy hobos called Dirty Mike and the Boys, could almost slip by unnoticed, such is the avalanche of action and quotable lines, sight gags and mildly puerile jokes.
There’s a genuine chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg, the latter displaying a surprising aptitude for comedy. Unusually, it’s Wahlberg who, for the most part, plays the film’s most noisy and aggressive character, with Ferrell willing to take a back seat as an affable, gullible computer geek with a bad taste in novelty coffee mugs.
There are great appearances, too, from Eva Mendez as Ferrell’s statuesque wife, Michael Keaton as gentle, somewhat ineffectual Captain Gene (a strikingly similar character to the captain Alan Arkin plays in So I Married An Axe Murderer, in fact), and Brit actor, Ray Stevenson, as a granite-faced hired mercenary.
McKay also proves to be an adept action director, and The Other Guys contains some genuinely great practical stunts, with cars flying gracefully into buses and buildings, while Wahlberg reprises many of his balletic gun-fu moves last seen in Max Payne.
How much you’ll enjoy The Other Guys as a whole is, of course, down to personal taste. Even after a third viewing, I’m not sure I particularly like the sudden left turn Ferrell’s character takes towards the end of the film, and Steve Coogan’s oleaginous billionaire doesn’t exactly leap from the screen, even if he does get one classic line (“We were going to do a Chechen version of Dora The Explorer, but it went terribly wrong.”).
Nevertheless, The Other Guys is filled with enough quotable lines, unforgettable moments, bizarre, improvised exchanges and unhinged action to make it worthy of repeated viewings.
As well as the theatrical version of The Other Guys, the Blu-ray contains an extended cut with a few extra minutes’ comedy. Given that the cinematic cut was, perhaps a quarter of an hour too long, the extended version tends to drag somewhat. Though there are some scenes here that are genuinely worth seeing, including a strange quarrel at an art exhibition, and an extended fight scene inside the confines of Gamble’s Toyota Prius.
The picture quality is sparkling throughout, and while an Adam McKay comedy may not be at the top of your wish list for a Blu-ray purchase, The Other Guys‘ numerous action scenes look great in HD.
The two versions of the movie aside, the disc comes with a generous number of other extras, some good, some less so. The alternate and deleted scenes, which show Will Ferrell and his fellow actors improvising for all they’re worth, are occasionally brilliant, and there’s a great, if brief feature called Why Are There Brits In This Movie, in which Adam McKay and Steve Coogan play up to UK and US stereotypes in the style of a junket interview.
Elsewhere, there’s what the disc’s producers call a “mom-mentary”, in which the lead actors’ parents provide a rambling feature commentary track. This is amusing for approximately five minutes at the most. Similarly, the features, Everybody Hates The DVD and Mark Wahlberg’s Eating Contest Entourage are mostly extraneous snippets of on-set footage, and were probably far more amusing for the actors than the viewer.
Nevertheless, there’s plenty of other stuff on here to round out the disc. A series of clips called Flash-Forwards provide a greater, and sometimes very funny, added insight into some of the characters’ backstories.
The absence of any additional Danson and Highsmith scenes are, perhaps, the disc’s most glaring omission. In fairness, this is probably because Adam McKay didn’t shoot any, but they’re such a genuinely great pairing that I’d happily watch an entire feature devoted solely to them. Maybe The Other Guys 2 could take the form of a prequel?
The Other Guys is out now on Blu-ray and available from the Den Of Geek Store.
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