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The Other Guys

The opening sequence of the 2010 action comedy The Other Guys follows two hardcore, badass New York cops, Highsmith and Danson (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson), as they plow a pristine ’71 Chevelle SS into a double-decker bus in recklessly awesome pursuit of some sharp-shooting collars. These smack-talking cowboys are the toast of the town, the gods of their precinct, the envy of their peers. They’re also not the stars of the movie. The stars are Gamble and Hoitz, a couple of police desk jockeys who spend most of their work hours filling out the paperwork that hot-property cops like Highsmith and Danson never bother with. This is fine by Gamble (Will Ferrell), an accountant at heart who chiefly handles crimes like building permit violations and listens to a steady stream of Little River Band. It’s less fine by Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who was once on the fast track to action-hero greatness as an officer, but whose career was derailed when he got a little nervous working crowd control at a Yankees game, and pissed off the entire city by shooting Derek Jeter. Hoitz’s unexercised reserves of testosterone often come out in explosions of impotent rage about his wasted potential (“I am a peacock! You’ve got to let me fly!”) and threats that he’ll punch his mild-mannered partner in the head. Soon enough, however, Gamble and Hoitz find themselves embroiled in an elaborate and sometimes convoluted plot surrounding a corrupt investor (Steve Coogan). After a little routine investigation, the case proves to be huge, giving the two a second chance to become law-enforcement hotshots, complete with slow-motion boardroom gunfights, dangerously close explosions, and kickass one-liners. But, of course, this is an absurdist comedy, so the fact that the story oscillates between standard and inscrutable is 100 percent irrelevant. The script was clearly just a template for increasingly insane and non sequitur comedic improvisation, which runs the gamut from enjoyably silly to weirdly Dada-esque. A bizarre running joke about Ferrell’s impossibly hot wife (Eva Mendes) gets funnier every time the movie revisits it, and Wahlberg might be even better at playing a hilariously exasperated, shvitzing parody of a tough guy than he is at playing the real thing. All this is to say, if you’re interested in a Will Ferrell comedy in the first place (a la Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, etc.), this movie has what you’re looking for -- and if you’ve seen enough buddy cop movies that you just want the chance to lampoon the whole genre a little bit, it’s got that too.