Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg make quite a buddy cop team, each alternating as the straight man and the funny man and pulling equal laughs from both ends of the spectrum. Ferrell is more restrained than in previous roles but Wahlberg’s antics balance out the eccentricities of the duo. Few serious characters even make an appearance, allowing the humor and silliness to steadily increase throughout the cops’ catastrophic investigation until a necessity for closure ebbs the jocosity during the finale. The lack of austerity certainly isn’t a tragedy and actually works to further the effect of the hilarious cameos and surprisingly impressive action sequences. Crazy ex-girlfriends and pimp flashbacks might cross into the boundaries of overly bizarre, but Wahlberg’s angry rants, Ferrell’s clever comebacks and Samuel L. Jackson’s stint as an egotistical hero cop are just plain funny.
Terry Hoitz’s (Mark Wahlberg) past mistakes in the line of duty and Allen Gamble’s (Will Ferrell) reluctance to take risks have landed them the roles of the “Other Guys”, disgraced New York City police detectives relegated to filling out paperwork for cocky hero cops Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson). The mismatched duo must look past their differences when they take on a high-profile investigation of shady capitalist David Ershon (Steve Coogan) and attempt to fill the shoes of the notoriously reckless officers they idolize.
The Other Guys is undeniably a Will Ferrell movie, although with his recent run of subpar fare, it has the sense to include a bevy of sensational supporting characters and a contrasting sidekick in Mark Wahlberg. The straight-man – funny-man, good cop – bad cop routine is initially quite appealing, generating many truly hilarious skits, indulging in the art of extreme verbal abuse. As the film progresses, however, Allen and Terry begin to stray from their original dimensions, spilling over into similarly nonsensical roles. When they both define themselves as funny men, and bit parts start competing for utter silliness (it’s a mistake to distract the viewer from the lead’s knack for comedy), their once hilarious partnership gives way to a string of random gags looped together with a generic plot – devoid of any real mystery so it doesn’t interfere with the buffoonery. They’re clearly not bound by any rules of character, continually shifting from what is expected. It’s spontaneous and unpredictable (since just about anything can happen), but it also becomes so lost in fiction it feels like we’re watching outtakes.
The opening scene, featuring glorified cameos by Jackson and Johnson, presents oodles of senseless destruction and millions of dollars in property damage, made even funnier with the over-the-top sarcastic tone, satirical press and the fact that it’s intended to be both action-filled and ludicrous. The high point is the dialogue and conversations, masterfully constructed to be delightfully absurd or bitingly acidic, many continuing on well past the point at which any normal exchange would cease. Countless segments tack on jokes for the sake of more jokes, which would generally be overkill if it weren’t for the fact that most are genuinely amusing. Wahlberg stresses the loose-cannon anger, while Ferrell tries to remain serious as he undertakes the most pathetic, peon tasks. The comedic chemistry is effective and the shticks are witty, but several moments are edited in such a way that we know something is missing (such as a truncated sex scene with Eva Mendes). At least we discover that the Toyota Prius is the laughing stock of the car world – certainly nothing a self-respecting NYC cop would drive.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)