Complicated but lots of laughs
THERE’S a great scene in ‘The Naked Gun 2 1/2’ where policeman Frank Drebin quizzes his ex-girlfriend Jane about her employer, the brilliant wheelchair-bound scientist Dr Mainheimer. “Have you noticed anything different about him?” Frank asks. “Well, only that he’s a foot taller, and he seems to be left-handed now,” Jane replies dismissively, before indignantly floating a theory that implicates her current squeeze. “Frank, what are you trying to tell me? That Quentin has somehow found an exact double for Dr Mainheimer and that tomorrow that double will give a fraudulent report to the President?” Frank, taken aback, responds: “Why that’s brilliant! That’s a lot better than what I came up with.”
Like ‘The Naked Gun’ movies, Adam McKay’s new cop comedy ‘The Other Guys’ produces its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments and has plenty of surreal humour. But while Leslie Nielsen’s famous trilogy had easily summarised plots (see above), the intrigue in ‘The Other Guys’ makes ‘The Wire’ seem straightforward.
Still, like the little girl who had a little curl, when it’s good, it’s very, very good. Allen (Will Ferrell) and Terry (Mark Wahlberg) are the titular guys, unappreciated detectives who aim to step into the shoes of more glamorous colleagues (played in gleeful cameos by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Samuel L Jackson).
Terry’s career has stalled since he accidentally shot a baseball star (Derek Jeter, playing himself), while Allen prefers to stick to office-based number-crunching.
After a wonderfully over-the-top car chase involving Johnson and Jackson, the relationship between the leads is set out. “I think you’re a fake cop,” Terry tells his partner. “If we were in the wild, I would attack you”, and there follows a hilarious riff about lions and tunas. Allen – who audited his parents when aged 11 – succumbs to peer pressure and discharges his weapon in the police station. As punishment he ends up with a wooden gun.
A lot of the best bits are in the trailer – Allen turns ‘good cop, bad cop’ into ‘bad cop, bad cop’, and learns his driving skills from ‘Grand Theft Auto’. But there are unexpected laughs too, as when a helicopter is attacked by a hail of golf balls.
There are also some amusing motifs.
Allen is an unlikely chick magnet but is constantly apologising for his (perfectly nice) wife (Eva Mendes). The police captain (Michael Keaton) regularly (and inadvertently) quotes American girl band TLC. Allen has created a downloadable application called Faceback — scan in the back of someone’s head and it shows you the face. Genius.
After a summer with few laughs, there are plenty here, at least in the first half. So how come we only gave it three stars? Well, ‘The Other Guys’ may have the most complicated story-line of any cop movie, ever. It involves a financial scam masterminded by an Englishman (Steve Coogan), and when the pair pick him up, they find themselves pursued by cops, Chechens and Nigerians. Even Coogan’s character, the only one who knows what’s going on, seems to be struggling to keep track of his myriad of enemies, so imagine what it’s like for the viewer who just wants stuff to laugh at.
A previous McKay-Ferrell collaboration, ‘Anchorman’, has gained cult status, with people regularly quoting Ferrell’s eponymous character Ron Burgundy. Indeed, the last time the movie was shown on RTÉ Two, sports presenter Eamon Horan used Burgundy’s catch-phrase ‘You stay classy’ in the news bulletin which followed.
‘The Other Guys’ isn’t in the same league as ‘Anchorman’. But it’s definitely worth checking out.
Rating 6 out of 10