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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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You worked as second AD on Jerry Lewis’ The Day the Clown Cried,  about a clown entertaining Jewish children in a WW II concentration camp. 
Yes, and I never saw the film. I was just the second assistant and it was an incredible fairytale for me, to work with Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis, along with Louis de Funes—who, by the way, had a very similar career to Jerry Lewis. He was a huge comic in France, but never, ever until now, 20 years after his death, recognized as a great actor. But they both made me laugh as a child. Jerry Lewis did everything: he did stand-up. He could act. He could sing and dance. He’s a photographer. He’s a director. And his films, when you look at them, are extremely daring and inventive. So he was someone that I wanted to emulate, in a way. The cinematographer of the film, Edmond Richard, who had shot a film I worked on directed by Rene Clement, called Hope to Die, with Jean-Louis Trintignant, Aldo Ray and Robert Ryan. It was like I had been invited to the court of Queen Elizabeth. It felt like a real achievement. I tried to work as hard as possible, and be very speedy. Like the weather, you don’t wait for somebody to ask. The moment the director says “I would like to have a…” you know what needs and get it for him. The greatest moment on that set for me was, one day Jerry Lewis got really upset with his crew, and went off on them, saying “You’re all too lazy. You don’t work hard enough. There’s only one guy who understands!” And he pointed to me. I only worked on the film for 15 days, at the circus in Paris. I never heard a thing about it after. I knew it was bogged down in lawsuits after it was finished, but it was an important moment in my professional life. I worked with a lot of amazing people before I directed my first film. I was an assistant director for twelve years. It was a great training ground, watching those masters work. I have many great memories. I started making films very late, you know.”
~ Jean-Jacques Beineix

“A shot is a story. A shot on its own should be a piece of a story. Which is why I talk a lot about watching films, even the films we’re working on, with the sound off. Just to analyze how the film works, because a film should work for an audience without any sound. The biggest problem I see is that someone may have a superficial understanding of what a shot is propositionally, but they don’t have an understanding of how all of these shots are part of a family that needs to connect, and so you’ll get something that’s like a sentence arranged poorly with six nouns in a row. That surprises me, because I think that’s something that can be learned. Some things can’t be, but that can. It’s a grammar. In a classroom I could walk somebody through the difference between a sequence in which the filmmaker has a deep understanding of how images connect, and someone who doesn’t. It’s not really an intellectual process. Some people are just born with it and are just sort of savants at that deep mathematical understanding of shot construction.  I’m better than I used to be, but there are some people I’m just never going to catch. Spielberg. His staging ability. I’m never going to catch him. But when you’re trying to figure out how to get better—I’m not competitive in the sense of looking around at other filmmakers and comparing myself to them. What I do have to think about in trying to navigate myself through a career is: what can I get better at, and what do I have that I can enhance that somebody else doesn’t have?”
~ Steven Soderbergh