Sunday, 19 September 2010



A few things should be stated right from the off: Firstly, I don't like Will Ferrell. Anything good that's been in a Will Ferrell movie has not been because of him. In Anchorman, it's the 70s decor, costumes and general ambience. In Melinda & Melinda, it's a script by Woody Allen (and Ferrell is basically playing the Allen role). And in Talladega Nights the only laughettes are courtesy of Sacha Baron Cohen as the comedy stock Gay Frenchman (just how bad does a movie have to be for the funniest thing in it to be the bloke out of Bruno?). A Night At The Roxbury has nothing good in it at all, he's in Zoolander which is kind of okay, and really the only Ferrell movie that I've really liked (and, curiously, nobody else did) is Stranger Than Fiction, where he's not doing the usual face-pulling and stream-of-semiconsciousness rambling.

Secondly, I don't like Mark Wahlberg, though I'll admit he's getting more palatable and that may be that his triptych of remakes where he conclusively proved he was no Michael Caine (The Italian Job), Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes) or Cary Grant (the Truth About Charlie, his unspeakable rehash of Charade which I paid a staggering 50p to see at Stelios' short-lived EasyCinema in Milton Keynes and resented the ticket price) were all several years ago. And, he did star in the wonderful Boogie Nights. Thirdly, I've never been a fan of Steve Coogan: I was never an Alan Partridge fan and just found the character annoying, and The Parole Officer was fairly terrible.

But what I do have a soft spot for is Big Idiot Action Cop Movies of the Lethal Weapon and Tango And Cash ilk, and that (much like this year's engaging throwback Cop Out) is partly where this movie springs from. Rather than the wisecracking trigger-happy cops forever in car chases and shootouts and colossal explosions, here well embodied by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Samuel L Jackson, this is about The Other Guys: the not-very-good cops back at the precinct, barely even in focus in the Lethal Weapon movies: the guys in the background who don't get the spectacular assignments but stay in the office and do the paperwork. (Isn't that basically the idea behind the Jasper Carrott / Robert Powell sitcom The Detectives?)

Except on this occasion where bickering paperwork partners Ferrell and Wahlberg get involved with a complex investment scam perpetrated by English financial whizz Steve Coogan to recover his losses and pay off the Chechens and Nigerians who want their money back. Though their Captain Michael Keaton keeps telling them they're off the case, inevitably they pursue it: cue the car chases and shootouts and explosions. And then....

And then, over the end credits, it suddenly turns into Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story in the style of the animated sequences in BBC TV's The Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy! Lots of graphs and statistics comparing the average American worker's salary, pensions and taxes with those of Wall Street bankers and multinational CEOs. Which is kind of interesting, if unexpected in a dumb action comedy. I suppose it's also worth pointing out that the IMDb lists an estimated budget of $90,000,000 for The Other Guys, and Will Ferrell reportedly trousered a mere twenty million for Talladega Nights, which was four years ago. I doubt that Wahlberg did the movie for sandwiches and expenses either. Go Capitalism.

In summary: it's not very good, it's not very funny (a couple of mild giggles in a 107 minute film is just not enough) and while there may be a point to be made about rampant greed and an unregulated investment banking system, someone who takes home millions every year for basically yelling and pulling faces is perhaps not the best guy to make it.


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