The Other Guys
Starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg
There’s no easy way of saying this, so I’m just going to put it out there: the makers of The Other Guys don’t trust you. If you watch the trailers for this movie, you’d be given the impression that this is a buddy comedy about two inept cops (Will Ferell and Mark Wahlberg) who end up showing up the two alpha-male cops (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson). Which is what you get if you only watch the first ten minutes of the film. Instead, this is a film about white collar crime and corporate greed. And the film makers don’t trust you enough to see this film without hiding it behind a buddy cop formula and Will Ferrell’s usual schtick. At the end of the day, nobody wins.
Ferrell and Whalberg play two police detectives who are living in the shadow of Jackson and Johnson’s supercops. When an opportunity comes up for Ferrell and Wahlberg to become the new supercops, they find themselves in the middle of a wall street crime that is way over their heads.
There are some truly funny moments in this movie. But I can’t shake the feeling that these moments are there not because they build the tone of the film but are really there to distract the audience. There is a message here about how we’re so focussed on crimes such as drug smuggling, that we ignore the fact that these crimes are small potatoes compared to the thievery of some investors which can run into the billions. But fraud isn’t exciting or sexy. So we need to put in some explosions and some trademark Ferrell tom-foolery to keep you watching. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t make me feel good as a movie watcher. This makes me feel like a spoon-fed child.
Marky Mark (sorry, I’ll always remember Wahlberg from his days with the Funky Bunch) puts in a good performance, but is hampered by attempts to give his character zany quirks. He’s given a romantic sub-plot that seems to amount to little more than trying to give the character something to do that fits into the buddy cop formula.
Ferrell, on the other hand, comes off much worse. When I walked out of the cinema, I tried to put my finger on why Ferrell’s character made me feel uncomfortable. He plays a forensic accountant who is married to a very good looking woman (Eva Mendes) and trying to play things safe as he investigates these crimes. There’s a revelation made later in the film that the character used to be a pimp and that’s how he met his wife. It’s meant to be funny, right? He’s a straight laced cop now, but he used to be an out-of-control pimp. What’s really happening is that he’s a verbally abusive husband keeping his wife terrorised through passive-aggressive behaviour, lowering her self worth, with the occasional burst of uncontrolled anger. This is not a good guy. And he’s meant to be the hero? Sorry, but this attempt for humour went past flat for me and entered into the territory of deplorable.
When The Other Guys tries to make its point, buried under jokes about pimps and TLC lyrics, the message is that not all crime happens in dark alleys and drug dens. There are people threatening the livelihoods of thousands, if not millions of people every day by abusing the stock market. The losses these guys rack up with dodgy deals numbers in billions of dollars. And yet there is no justice for them, especially when the government declares them “too big to fail”.
There is no justice in the pursuit of crime in The Other Guys, but there is in God’s kingdom. God is a God of justice. No crime or injustice will go unnoticed. God will bring punishment to the wicked. He will say “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” (Deut 32:35) No crime, no matter how big or how small will escape God’s judgement. Which is pretty scary when you think about it because we’ve all sinned. It’s only because Jesus has paid the penalty for sin for all who follow him that we are spared from this fate. And because we have been spared, we can look forward to the day when sin is dealt with once and for all.
The Other Guys is an action/comedy that really struggles to find action sequences when the focus of the movie is on transferring funds from one bank account to another. There’s some good stuff here, stuff that really makes you think and want to reevaluate how you see things. However, it is buried under a pile of bad character decisions and jokes that don’t always work. If you love Will Ferrell, give it a try. If not, give this one a miss.