The Other Guys marks the third time that I can recall my opinion drastically changing the second time I watched a film. This time is different though, as I actually know the reason why I didn’t like it before, and why I did enjoy it this time: My mood. I initially watched The Other Guys when I wasn’t in the mood to laugh. This was a mistake. Watching it now actually made it bearable, which is much improved on before.
I suppose there’s a moral in here somewhere: When you are going into a screwball comedy, be in a good mood. Otherwise, you aren’t going to enjoy it, and you’ll feel like you’re wasting your time. That’s how I initially felt in regards to this film. This time around, I actually found myself laughing at some of the jokes, while becoming somewhat involved with the story and the characters involved.
The plot centers on a couple of mismatched police officers played by Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) is actually a decent cop, but after an unfortunate incident involving a baseball player, he has been relegated to desk duty with Allen Gamble (Ferrell). Gamble wants no business with the outside world of being a cop, instead preferring to stay at his computer. There’s a reason for (almost) everything in this movie, and Gamble’s fear of real cop duty definitely does get explained. The explanation kind of comes from out of nowhere though, and seems to be there just for the sole purpose of explaining this.
That actually ends up being one of the problems I have with The Other Guys. Things are explained just so that they can say they were. There are certain plot points that don’t go anywhere when you get right down to it, and seemed to only be created so that certain character traits could be explained or so that there was a slight reason for things to occur. It’s paint-by-numbers storytelling, and it makes things predictable. It also makes one event that involves Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson really weird — it’s the only part of the movie that does go unexplained, and makes you wonder what the point of it was.
The main story involves the main cops attempting to arrest multi-billionaire David Ershon (Steve Coogan). The police chief tells them not to bother, but they persist. Over and over and over again. There are slight deviations from the main plot, but Ershon gets grabbed and released quite a few times throughout the film. Two other things happen: Events will occur, be explained and then never mentioned again, or they will become running gags, like the way attractive women are instantly attracted to Gamble.
What makes the film tolerable is the way that it manages to stay funny for most of its duration. The exchanges between Wahlberg and Ferrell remain the highlight, but there are some comments made by side characters that get quite a few laughs. There was one comment in particular made in reference to baseball player Alex Rodriguez that made me chuckle. The laughter did seem to get less frequent as the film progresses though, which leads me to believe that if, say, 30 minutes was cut-out of the film’s runtime, (maybe most of the random explanation scenes?), then it would have had better pacing and would have remained more humorous overall.
The most recent and obvious comparison that The Other Guys is going to draw is one to the 2010 buddy cop film Cop Out. I actually found Cop Out to be quite funny, but I don’t think these inevitable comparisons to be completely fair. They each have different styles of humor. Cop Out is more in your face with its jokes, while The Other Guys plays the differences between the two cops for all its worth, and has most of the jokes either coming from, or being done to, each cop. Cop Out‘s side characters were actually more interesting and entertaining than the leads, and had jokes that were going for larger appeal, rather than small chuckles. At least, that’s how I found it. Cop Out was more hit or miss, while The Other Guys was usually funny, but didn’t have many laugh-out-loud moments.
I’m still not completely sold on The Other Guys, but for what it’s worth, I enjoyed watching it when I was in a good mood. It’s still a bit too long, and the plot ends up getting sidetracked just so that some things that don’t require explaining can be explained, but it was still funny enough to keep me entertained. That’s about all that’s required of a comedy, and since The Other Guys was funny, I count it as a success.