Adam McKay,

The Establishing Shot: The Other Guys Review

Saturday, September 11, 2010 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

The Other GuysThe Gauge - For me, some of the greatest films are often films that fulfill a number of key factors of a gauge (Plot, Acting, Vision, Production and Experience) all coming together to create a marvelous singular viewing experience.

Naturally each factor can be broken down into sub factors e.g. Acting could include Cast, etc. But rather than go into each factor, as this would be an exercise in stream of consciousness irrigation that would take too long to get into a digestible dam. Rather take my word that the Gauge is meant as a rough guideline. Not all great films have all the factors represented and often good films lack one or more factors or have an abundance of one factor. But it is an easy framework for me to distill a film down to its core.

Having Experience as a key factor throws the whole scale out as; sometimes outside influences (audience, seating, projection, sound, ambient noise, etc.) can effect the viewing experience. As well as a film’s content can be high on emotion and totally negate the need for other factors.

More complexity gets thrown into the mix when you understand that there is no checklist for the above Gauge a lot of this is done intuitively. It’s not like you sit there waiting for a soundtrack to kick in, and even then some films are better without a soundtrack.

The Other Guys
So now that you have some insight into my subconscious processes that I go through when watching a film, forget all of that because I’m watching Will Farell and Mark Walberg’s latest film, the bordering on surreal The Other Guys.

When a film starts with a super cop duo screaming through the streets of New York in a souped up Chevrolet Chevelle, guns blazing narrated by ICE –T, the soundtrack of Wyclef Jean’s "We Trying to Stay Alive" remix. You know you are in for a good time if you roll with it.

The Other Guys features, Samuel L. Jackson as P.K. Highsmith & Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Christopher Danson as New York cities top crime fighting team, however this is the story of the guys living in their shadow - The Other Guys. Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) an ambitious super cop, albeit that his detecting skills are holding him back and Allen Gamble (Will Farell), recently having being transferred from Accounting Forensics - he prefers to play it safe.

Rather than aping the recent buddy films their relationship is reminiscent of Lethal Weapon’s; Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) & Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) Gibson Glover or The Last Boy Scout’s Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) & Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans) neither are the “straight man“ and they each bring there own idiosyncrasies and ample baggage to the party. Spurned on by Hoitz’s ambition they get in way, way, way over their heads as they unpeel the onion skins of a crime. A crime so convoluted that Hoitz’s struggles to understand the finer details of it. Much of the film’s success hinges on Farell and Wahlberg’s onscreen chemistry – which they amply pull off. Farell and Wahlberg may be the leads but the laughs are delivered across the board.

I find Will Farell’s films a little hit or miss. Some of them are a class effort (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy/ Stranger Than Fiction) whilst others fall completely flat (Blades of Glory). This is possibly is because I have little to no exposure of his Saturday Night Live material. He had a very successful 7 year run before graduating to the Big screen full time.

With The Other Guys he reteams with Director/Writer Adam McKay who was responsible for much of Farell’s SNL output, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Step Brothers as well as the hilarious Landlord shorts that launched Farell’s & McKay’s streaming video platform "Funny or Die".

The plot line could have very easily been turned into a serious high action update of the buddy film - a natural extension to Lethal Weapon wherein our hapless duo find themselves taking on the likes of an evil financial institution the MacGuffins of which I wont spoil but involves heinous villains, private security armies, disgustingly plain wives, broken relationships and dark pasts. All with cracking dialogue and set ups that keep the laughs come at 140 mph and only stopped when punctuated with explosions and car chases some of which you will be laughing at too.

It’s a quality production as you would expect from a film littered with talent like; Rob Riggle (almost reprising his role from The Hangover), Damon Wayans Jr., Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Ray Stevenson, Eva Mendes, Anne Heche, Natalie Zea and Bobby Cannavale.

Some scenes will have you in stitches (as with most of the audience in the screening I saw) but I find that laugh heavy films invariably peak somewhere near the ¾ mark and the remaining quarter has to really pull out the stops to keep you engaged. After a slight downturn The Other Guys neatly changes gears and the action kicks up a notch. I really want to give detail of some of the many stand out scenes but that combined with the spoiler laden trailer could quite possibly kill any remaining surprises.

To balance my review I should add that my only complaints with regards to the production were some shoddy CGI (which adds to the parody) as well as it seemed as if occasionally scenes were shot through a window pane causing a strange effect where the screen would be darker and colours muted - particularly the actor’s faces. Not to worry I don’t think anyone else in the screening noticed.

The Other Guys could have gone either way for me but as you have by now gathered I enjoyed. My laughs ranging from giggling snorts to out and out laugh induced coughing fits (and I wasn’t even the guy laughing the loudest), but I suspect that its surreal sense of funny may not be for everyone.

PS I should mention that the soundtrack is awesome, that combined with the rather spectacular projection and rumbling sound system that I saw The Other Guys on - big screen viewing is definitely recommended.

The Other Guys will be smashing a big screen near you on September 17, 2010

The Other Guys
The Other Guys Poster

Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Ray Stevenson, with Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson