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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest Forrest@moviecitynews.com

“Did that go the way you thought it was gonna go? Nope.”

The Other Guys is way better than I thought it would be.  It’s not that I haven’t admired and enjoyed the films that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have made together, it’s that I have lost my faith in Ferrell as a consistent comedic presence.  For every Step Brothers (one of the more underrated comedies in recent years), there’s a handful of films like Land of the Lost, Semi-Pro, and Blades of Glory.  And as much as I enjoy the show Eastbound & Down, I didn’t find Ferrell’s slimy car salesman particularly funny or original.  Basically, I was starting to tire of the standard Will Ferrell shtick.

So color me surprised that The Other Guys turned out to be a fairly interesting send-up of cop flicks.  Ferrell is at his best here because he’s not as loud; he’s often been at his funniest when he’s subtle and quiet.  Here, it’s Mark Wahlberg that plays the more temperamental role and it’s much funnier to see Wahlberg lose it.  Of course, because Ferrell is reserved for much of the film, when he does blow up, it’s delightful.

Unlikely heroes

A rehashing of the plot is completely unnecessary because it’s all just a vehicle for Ferrell and Wahlberg to play off each other and they have great chemistry that nearly rivals what Ferrell shares with John C. Reilly or Paul Rudd.  I thought this film succeeded where Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz failed because Adam McKay doesn’t seem to have the same reverence for action films that Wright clearly did.  So, rather than lovingly mocking the outlandishness of these types of films as Wright did, this is a film that knows the plot should come secondary.

The one part of the film that really threw me off, however, was the end credit animated sequence that explains what a Ponzi scheme is and how it works.  It goes to some pretty heavy places, which is not how I wanted to leave a film that I just had a good time with.  It seems pretentious and heavy-handed, which is not what I expect to find when I sign up for a Will Ferrell comedy.

However, I fully enjoyed my time with The Other Guys.  It’s not high art and it’s not the funniest film ever, but it’s a good time and should offer everyone at least a few chuckles.

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“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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