Monday, August 16, 2010

The Other Guys: A Ladybrain Review

Adam McKay is one of a million: a writer and director who can put together a great trailer. Too bad the feature presentation of The Other Guys is so long and boring that it chokes on its own machismo.

The underwhelming tragedy of The Other Guys is that Saturday Night Live veteran McKay is the same fellow behind the hilarious Funny or Die short The Landlord and Anchorman. Then again, he’s also the guy behind other Will Ferrell flops like [Talladega Nights and Step Brothers.] Clearly, the McKay and Ferrell duo is destined to be hit-or-miss.

The Other Guys starts off promising. Two over-the-top cop heroes (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) barrel through New York City chasing teenagers who are in possession of a negligible amount of marijuana. They destroy millions of dollars of property and endanger dozens of lives, but they do it to the soundtrack of their own gunfire and acerbic quips. These two men get the glory—and of course, the trophy sex-with-women that goes along with it. The other dozen New York Police Department detectives—they get the paperwork.

This film is the story of two NYPD “other guys.” Desk-ridden detective partners Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) and Allen Gamble (Ferrell) don’t get out from behind their computers much, because one accidentally shot someone and the other craves safety. These two uncover a fishy financial deal, but for reasons completely unexplained (there’s no corruption involved) the police chief and district attorney thwart Hoitz and Gamble’s every move to investigate.

What follows is 107 minutes that will seem like an eternity of you’re-like-a-woman-and-that’s-bad jokes. Because, you see, there are apparently no women in this film’s NYPD (aside from a counselor), and the men basically only insult each other about being effeminate. What defines lady-like in The Other Guys? The way one’s urine sounds hitting a urinal, talking about shooting someone without bragging or driving a Prius (bonus points for equating environmentalism with emasculation). And what defines manhood? Learning to dance just to make fun of homos, lamenting the fact that your son is bisexual or saying the word “bitch” ad nauseam. And the thing is, you don’t particularly care if Gamble and Hoitz catch the bad guy (Steve Coogan), because Gamble is an accountant at heart, and Hoitz is just an unrelenting asshole. The bad guy is much more entertaining.

But even if you were following the plot, the barrage of woman-hating language and themes in this film is hugely distracting, although frankly there’s not much to distract from. Aside from the language, there’s the classic (and somehow never not endearing in the world of film) side plot about a girlfriend who went from restraining order to marriage vows in about 15 minutes since, really, stalking is flattering in romantic courtship.

And then there’s the whole Gamble’s ugly wife joke. The twist here is that his wife (Eva Mendes) is objectively hot, if you’re into the whole American-beauty-standards ideal. Ferrell’s character spends the whole film lamenting, to her and to others, that she’s an ugly duckling and sucks at cooking. The ways he seems dissatisfied are the things that are traditionally valued in women—beauty and domestic aptitude. Hoitz and the audience wonder throughout the film: What’s the reason for Gamble’s odd point of view? Well, Gamble later confesses that he doesn’t feel he deserves such a wonderful, beautiful wife so he understates her attributes (to say the least) to keep her from leaving him. How sweet, and how unlike real-life domestic violence.

Hands down, the best part of this dud is the credits, which graphically show how a Ponzi scheme works (I guess all of a sudden this film considers itself to mostly be about finance?). These credits will cool you down from being pissed that you heard the best jokes a month ago when you saw the trailer before Inception. You’ll realize while watching the credits that the inexplicable narration voice you were trying to place is Law & Order’s Ice-T. You’ll also realize you should have lobbied harder to see The Kids Are All Right earlier that evening.

Please, stay away from this drivel. Even the above examples don’t fully capture the constant onslaught of absurd fodder this film gives even the most casual feminist (or person who thinks that women are full humans). Let’s wrap this piece of crap up with a few words of wisdom, courtesy of The Other Guys: “She overreacted… she’s a woman.”

Bechdel Grade: Fail

Feminist Grade: F

Overall Movie Grade: F

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