The Other Guys

By Amy Nicholson

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Posted August 5, 2010 in Film

When a bomb explodes in front of Bruce Willis, his cheekbones get highlighted by ash. When one explodes before Will Ferrell, he collapses in a puddle sobbing, “I’ve got blood blisters on my hands! I call bullshit on that!” The joke isn’t just that he’s a wuss (he is)—it’s that movie violence never measures up to the human pain of the real thing. Into this mock-machismo climate struts—or really, tiptoes—Will Ferrell, who’s spent his career lampooning masculinity. He’s either under the bar (Step Brothers, Elf) or far, far over it (Anchorman, Talladega Nights). Here, he’s femme. According to sour new partner Mark Wahlberg—demoted to a desk job after accidentally capping Derek Jeter in the knee during Game 7—even the sound of Ferrell’s pee is feminine. Wahlberg is half a foot shorter than Ferrell, but he makes up for the height with a glower that could kill pigeons. His career’s being kneecapped by this namby-pamby transfer from Forensic Accounting who drives—gasp—a Prius, which in this world is like cruising in a Barbie bike—quick, somebody warn Leonardo DiCaprio. With the entrance of shyster stockbroker Steve Coogan (whose motto is “Live for Excess!”) and the $32 billion lost investment he’s scheming to recoup, director Adam McKay gives the undynamic duo a chance to prove their mettle. Problem is, no one else cares—not Captain Michael Keaton (having a lark) and definitely not the audience. How can we when even McKay and co-writer Chris Henchy’s script would rather squander time on Ferrell’s sonorous Irish singing and supremely hot wife Eva Mendes? (It’s meant to be funny that the goon treats her like garbage despite having a doctorate and a killer push-up bra, but that joke wears thin fast.) At least unlike those uppity, over-achieving women, the movie knows its place as multiplex fast food. Or does it? At the credits, McKay runs infographics on real life Ponzi schemes, like all the earlier shenanigans were just a warm-up for some learning. And it turns out that fact still beats fiction—while Coogan’s scrambling for $32 billion, McKay reminds us that Bernie Madoff swiped double that for a cool $64.9 billion. Of course, by this moment in the running time, choppers have now exploded next to Ferrell and left him without a scratch—they’re fittingly harmless in a movie that will sell you anything for a laugh.

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