12. The Other Guys

Speaking of… hmm, I’ve got nothing for this one. This gimmick’s getting a little tired. Speaking of fun, I guess? Weak.

(I'm not all that happy with how this review turned out, but I figured you might notice if the list was missing a "12", so here it is):

You might have noticed, but Will Ferrell is a very funny person. But you might have also noticed that he’s been in a lot of bad movies. And while everyone’s been burned at least one Ferrell movie – for me, it was Bewitched, what a rancid mess that was – and that’s made them a little leery of slapping down good money to see an undirected Ferrell vamp for two hours. At the release of any Ferrell movie, moviegoers gather to it warily, sniffing surreptitiously for the scent of desperation.

There’s no need to worry. The Other Guys is yet another collaboration of Ferrell with Adam McKay, the director with whom he’s made almost all of his best work (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers). Yes, I know, Ferrell’s been good in other things (Old School, Elf, Stranger Than Fiction), but the concern with a Ferrell movie is not with whether it’s going to be as good as Old School, but rather whether it’s been bad as Kicking and Screaming, or The Producers (egads, The Producers. Ick).

Paired with blue-collar tough guy Mark Wahlberg, whose usually well-disguised lack of height has never been more obvious (seriously, he doesn’t seem to come up to Ferrell’s shoulder), the two play inept New York City cops overshadowed by flashier members of the force. Ferrell, a timid paperwork-pusher, butts heads constantly with Wahlberg, a street cop stuck behind a desk after accidentally shooting Derek Jeter in the leg (I know, I know, happens to the best of us). Wahlberg wants to be back out on the streets, Ferrell is perfectly content with his current life.

Of course, movies being what they are, the pair soon finds themselves thrust to the forefront of a major investigation, and the hijinks ensue like crazy. Wahlberg finds his comedic rhythm by falling back on his patented over-enunciated line shouting (I’m not sure if its Stockholm Syndrome or what, but that shout gets funnier the longer you’re exposed to it. I bet if you watched The Fighter right after this, it’d be hilarious). So the comedic heavy lifting is left to Ferrell, who carries the film by playing a strange combination of his character from Stranger Than Fiction and the “I drive a Dodge Stratus!” guy.

Not all of the bits work – most of the extended scenes Ferrell and Wahlberg have with Michael Keaton as the police chief are a bit of a bust – but when the two of them get rolling together, it’s just as inspired as any of Ferrell’s runs with John C. Reilly or Vince Vaughn. And McKay seems to know exact how to keep Ferrell both grounded in the character while still giving him freedom to go off into inventive riffs - his bit about his alternate persona, a pimp-for-hire named Gator, is the best part of the film.

Don’t be dissuaded by past stumbles - or its slightly misleading trailer. The Other Guys is every bit as good as Step Brothers and just shy of Talladega Nights, and is a worthy addition into “Best Of Will Ferrell” canon, a collection that will probably need an awfully good curator one day to weed through all the dreck.