The hardest thing for a parody to achieve is to be a great entry in the genre it’s parodying. Their very nature is to make fun of something, which takes precedence most of the time. That’s not wrong, it’s just the way it is but for something to be able to elicit laughter in successfully making fun of something while simultaneously being a great example of what it’s lampooning, well that’s something special. Hot Fuzz, Clue, and Galaxy Quest are all part of that special group parodies just as good as the original. I consider The Other Guys as part of that group.
Starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as an odd couple pairing of cops, The Other Guys is both a ridiculous comedic send-up of buddy cop movies and a buddy cop movie that can stand alongside the classics. Wahlberg’s cop is an always angry ball of machoism who so desperately wants to be the hero of a cop movie that his first instinct is to assume drug cartels are the culprit. Ferrell just wants to enjoy the safety of his desk job as a forensic accountant.
Not only is the pairing a perfect buddy-cop mismatch but the ridiculousness of both of them rips apart the clichés of the genre without calling anything into question. Wahlberg is channeling the same energy he had in The Departed. He is always yelling and colorfully insulting anyone who even slightly irritates him, except unlike the stereotypical macho cop protagonist, he is a loser who no one takes seriously. His anger plays extraordinarily well against Ferrell’s jovial spirit.
It’s not just the leads that keep the laughs coming. The whole supporting cast is incredible. Whether it’s Michael Keaton stealing every scene he’s in or Brett Gelman almost stealing the movie with his one scene. Everyone is in top comedic form no matter how big their role is.
As funny as it is, The Other Guys is just a great buddy-cop film. It is a comedy first and foremost but the action is filmed with such frenetic energy that despite not being the best-looking action sequences you’ll see, everything has a heightened sense of oomph. It fits with the world of the film which is obviously a heightened version of a cop film and it’s all fun.
Storywise it’s standard fare for the genre but it works so well because the characters are likable and their plight is interesting to watch. Seeing Farrell and Wahlberg bond as they mope about their troubles while a jazz soundtrack plays is both a glorious send-up of these movies and a great example of how to do it right. It’s so easy for these films to fall into cliche and this one never does. It plays with what you know to create laughs but also a legitimately compelling plot.
Everything about The Other Guys just works. The performances are all top-notch, it’s endlessly quotable, and the main characters are likable. Does it break new ground in the genre? No, but it isn’t trying to, it’s just trying to be a funny, well-crafted sendup of a cinematic staple and it succeeds brilliantly.
Rating: Cruise Standard
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