Film review: The Other Guys

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are contrasting New York cops in a silly, tasteless and very funny comedy. By Peter Bradshaw

Fans of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy will know what to expect of a new film by its director, Adam McKay, the comedy powerhouse and co-creator, with Will Ferrell, of the Funny or Die website. McKay directs and co-writes this relentlessly silly, tasteless and very funny story of two New York cops: one is a regular tough guy, played by Mark Wahlberg, who as a punishment for a terrible mistake on duty is humiliatingly partnered with an irritating bespectacled beta-male, new on the force, played by Ferrell. Other officers get the glory, particularly a superstar duo played in cameo by Samuel L Jackson and Dwayne Johnson; Ferrell and Wahlberg are doomed to be "the other guys", until they find themselves on the trail of serious financial fraud.

McKay and co-writer Dave Henchy keep on pumping out gags; their movie often looks like a 107-minute comedy sketch, and I laughed throughout. McKay will cheerfully sacrifice narrative and character consistency for a joke. Ferrell gets big laughs as the appalling Detective Gamble, who, to his partner's astonishment, has a gift for entrancing beautiful women and whose college career contains a very dark secret. Gullible idiot that he is, Gamble is told by straight-faced detectives that firing your handgun into the air while doing paperwork in the office just once – the so-called "desk pop" – is a well-accepted tradition for New York police officers; he believes it, with appalling results. The unnoticed "silent brawl" between feuding cops at a funeral is a masterpiece of pure comedy. Weirdly, the final credits unroll over some Michael Mooreish graphics and statistics about fat-cat fraud. Did Mr McKay think his movie was a hard-hitting satire on capitalism? Well, I don't think so – just a tremendous comedy.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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