As far as buddy-cop movies go, they all tend to follow the same sort of format, and focus on the same types of characters (two mis-matched partners that may be of different races, heights, ages, and social status, but are both equally heroic, fiercely loyal, and are the type of guys that everyone knows can get the job done), but The Other Guys is different; in that it doesn’t focus on the heroes of the N.Y.P.D. but other guys, guys who couldn’t even hope to compete with the department’s real heroes.
The Other Guys in question are detectives Gamble and Hoitz (played by Anchorman’s Will Ferrell, and The Fighter’s Mark Wahlberg, respectively), and at the opening of the movie their role is limited to desk work, and observing the reckless but flashy work of superstar detectives Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson, Iron Man 2) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson, Faster), until an unexpected turn provides them with an opening to move ahead in the department.
Soon they’re competing with other detectives to be the top partners in the city (much to the dismay of Gamble, who would have been more than content to spend his career sitting behind his desk); when they stumble across a simple building permit violation, that quickly escalates into a multi-billion dollar conspiracy, headed by a highly respected businessman.
Gamble and Hoitz then find themselves embroiled in the middle of a typical buddy-cop storyline; involving the two somewhat mis-matched partners (Gamble’s an overly cautious stickler for detail, who miraculously manages to attract every good-looking woman in New York, and Hoitz is a wannabe hotshot who craves a bit of action, is unlucky with the ladies, and much more rough-and-ready than Gamble) getting into hot water with the goons involved with the conspiracy, being told to leave the case alone by their captain, and even falling out with each other and getting demoted, along the road to solving the case of their career.
But what really sets The Other Guys apart from most buddy-cop movies is the comedy; as whilst all films in the genre have a bit of banter, and a few laughs, sprinkled in-between the action scenes, they’re often more focussed on the action (the Lethal Weapons had a much darker tone, and even films like Rush Hour which have a stronger comedy element still use it mainly to link the action scenes together), whereas the jokes are the main feature of The Other Guys; and it’s amazingly funny throughout, with shocking and unexpected jokes popping up every few seconds, and consisting of sarcasm, witty one-liners, and a great deal of physical comedy.
Mark Wahlberg plays a fairly typical Wahlberg character; a bitter detective who’s angry all the time, and always looking for a fight, yet shows his vulnerable side once or twice in the movie (slightly unconvincingly); and does it as well as usual (he’s fun to watch, and gets some of the film’s best jokes, although Hoitz is far from as memorable as Wahlberg’s Dignam in The Departed), just as Will Ferrell plays a typical Ferrell type character in Gamble, and is as bumbling and humorous as ever.
Although Wahlberg and Ferrell aren’t the only stars in The Other Guys, and are constantly boosted by an amazing supporting cast; which includes not only Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (and what action fan wouldn’t have paid just to see a Danson and Highsmith movie?), but Rob Riggle (The Hangover) and Damon Wayans Jr. (My Wife and Kids) as two very funny competing detectives, Eva Mendes (Hitch) as Gamble’s ‘plain’ wife, and Michael Keaton (Batman) in a brilliant turn as a cliched police captain who proves just what a joy it is to watch him work.
Adam Mckay’s (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) direction also serves the film well; as it plays out so stylishly that it doesn’t appear as grim as a typical detective movie, but has much more flair than a typical comedy; and is constantly inventive, funny, and often very impressive (particularly in a specific scene where Gamble ad Hoitz have a night out on the beer); giving yet another reason to watch The Other Guys.
Yet whilst you’ll be tittering a good deal of the way through The Other Guys, and properly laughing on several occasions, the one thing you won’t be doing is paying attention to the story; and there’s barely a person who’s seen it who could explain exactly what happened in the case (even straight after watching); although somehow this doesn’t matter, because The Other Guys does what it sets out to do; creating a detective movie that’s much more of a comedy than an action movie; and is a very funny, and sometimes surprising, watch throughout.
One of the first things to hit you when watching The Other Guys isn’t simply the unusual style, and quirky narration, but the sheer level of detail (evident in both the close-ups and long-shots), and impressive looking colours that remain natural, have great contrast, and along with the impressively rich and deep looking blacks, provide a healthy sense of depth to the image.
Flesh-tones are fairly natural (despite appearing ever so slightly warm), and the picture is not only covering by a think layer of grain (giving it a healthy looking, film-like, texture) but free from banding, pixelation, edge enhancement, or any other unsightly flaws or digital manipulation; making it a solid all round transfer that no fan could complain about.
Nearly as impressive is The Other Guys’ audio track; a 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix that boasts pitch perfect, well centered, and always intelligible dialogue, a decent use of bass in both the action sequences and some of the music tracks, and an above adequate use of the surround channels for placing ambient sounds where appropriate.
Where this track excels however is during the action sequences; because whilst the rear channels can become a little quiet now and then during the non-action scenes (with ambience sometimes limited to only obvious sounds and not fully utilized to create a living soundfield), they burst into action during the gunfights, fist fights, and car chases, that litter the film, creating a wholly immersive audio experience that’s filled with impressive pans, superb directionality, and exceptional clarity.
Yet while the soundtrack for The Other Guys may be impressive, and totally immersive in certain sections, it somehow fails to leave too much of a lasting effect; because despite the clarity and precision of much of the track, there’s a severe lack of standout sequences, and an absence of the “wow” factor; meaning that while the sound is impressively good, it falls somewhat short of being great.
As well as the almost obligatory BD-Live and Movie IQ, The Other Guys comes to Blu-ray with a hefty amount of special features which sometimes put an unusual spin on expected bonus materials; including an audio commentary conducted by the mother’s of director Adam McKay, star Will Ferrell, and co-writer Chris Henchy (Land of the Lost), which discusses the film, the special effects, and what the three were like as children, and makes for an amusing listen for anyone who’s a fan of their work.
Also included are a couple of interview featurettes; including one fairly generic and slightly praise heavy one, and one conducted with the camera pressed up against the interviewees face; alternate and deleted scenes (via a couple of different options); containing some amusing footage and alternate sequences (including some extra action from Danson and Highsmith) that makes for a good watch; and a number of features that scream pure filler; such as a commercial for the fictional company the film revolves around, Mark Wahlberg interviewing an extreme eater, a music video for the song Pimps Don’t Cry (performed by Cee Lo Green, with Eva Mendes), and an amusing feature poking fun at Steve Coogan.
Behind the scenes footage makes a big impact; with features showing Rob Riggle messing around, the DVD guy annoying people on set, a few rounds of kiss-chicken, and a fairly average gag-reel; but possibly two of the best features included are not those, or the featurette examining the film’s stunt work, but those showing a number of improvised lines that didn’t make it into the movie, and one focussing solely on the work of Michael Keaton; which shows just how impressive his work is, and is a real treat for fans of his.
Scoring obvious points for the sheer volume of special features, this is a collection which is not only numerous but almost constantly amusing, yet loses points for including a number of pieces which are nothing more than skippable filler material, and others which are simply way too short and could have been included in a longer making of, yet remains worthy of praise, as it will undoubtedly give fans of the film a few more laughs.
The Bottom Line:
Taking a typical buddy-cop movie but focussing not on the obvious heroes but the B-team, The Other Guys manages to take a well known genre, inject it with much more comedy than most buddy-cop movies usually have, and tell the tried-and-tested story of two mis-matched partners attempting to solve the case of their career, in a way that’ll having you laughing for a full two hours.
Blu-ray is also the way to watch The Other Guys; because not only is the picture quality superb, and the audio quality well above the fold, but there’s a stack of amusing special features included that didn’t make it onto the DVD, and the option to watch both the theatrical and extended versions of the movie; perfect for any fan.
The Other guys is one of those unexpected comedies that may not gain the same impressively score on the laugh-o-meter as Due Date or The Hangover, but is fun, stylish, and guaranteed to keep you laughing again and again, and be one that you won’t mind re-watching just as soon as it’s finished; making it not only a fun film, but a solid Blu-ray buy.