Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nog vs. Gleiberman on The Other Guys

I'm surprised how good some of the reviews are for The Other Guys. As a fan of the three previous Will Ferrell/Adam McKay collaborations (Anchorman; Talladega Nights; StepBrothers), I certainly wanted it to be great. But to my mind it's easily the weakest of their films. Some big laughs, yes, but with looong dead stretches.

Maybe I'm missing something? Let's see what Owen Glieberman says in EW's "A-" review:

EW: "The Other Guys is almost a recognizably gritty genre picture, complete with bullet spray, Sidney Lumet gunmetal lighting, and a Wall Street villain (Steve Coogan) who embodies the sins of our time with a relative absence of cheek. All of that grounds the movie and makes it funnier."

Even if I agreed the film works as an effective action film (which I don't), do we want a "recognizably gritty genre picture" from these guys? What I want is their tried and true approach of we'll-try-anything-to-make-you-laugh-and-if-one-joke-doesn't-stick-then-maybe-the-next-one-will. It seems petty to fault Ferrell and McKay for trying something different, but I don't fully buy that they are attempting to stretch that much besides bulking up the action-loving demographic a bit (and I also think that demographic has never heard of Sidney Lumet and therefore isn't "in" on the '70's feel of the film, which isn't particularly funny anyway). Also, not letting the hilarious Steve Coogan be funny does NOT make the movie funnier.

EW: "In The Other Guys, Ferrell cuts down on the stylized hysteria, and he doesn't run around with his belly hanging out. As an actor, he's closer here to Peter Sellers or the early Woody Allen; he does obsessive riffs on being an insanely cautious man in a culture that prizes control."

Let's not go THAT far, Glieberman! Yes, Ferrell and McKay have cleverly altered the usual persona here and there are some very funny bits involving the character's "repressed" personality (my favorite: the college flashbacks where Ferrell is completely blind to the fact that he's inadvertantly become a pimp running a "stable of whores"), but there's still plenty of the "stylized hysteria" that one expects (the bad cop/bad cop sequence, for instance).

Anyway, I stand by the fact that this has little of the repeat-viewing appeal of the previous comedies (B-, tops!). I know that on DVD I'll be skipping through the action scenes for the half-hour or so where the film honestly delivers the kind of comedy that these two can do very well.


  1. Oh shit. I think you just got a seat on the panel of the new A.D.D. filmcast.....along with other nerds from Liberty Hall. #TWOOSH

    ...and this film looks like a piece of shit....from viewing the trailer only....and I like both Ferrel & Wallberg & Coogan. Oh well.

  2. Haha...I might actually sit in on that shit! Let me know.

  3.'s going to happen. Also...I heard Elliot SPITZER talk about how he loved this film on the Slate Political Gabfest podcast (in the cocktail chatter section at the end) Made me re-think seeing it....hmmmmmm

  4. 1. I haven't seen this film, and 2. you know I'm prone to hyperbole myself, but. . .I think Glieberman has gone too far this time.