Adam McKay's The Other Guys predictably and inauspiciously features the writer/director's go-for-broke comedic style of crude dialogue, silly tangents and a peculiar fascination with musical interludes. His latest certainly brings plenty of laughs - especially in its first sixty minutes - but the longer this buddy-cop comedy lingers, the more desperate, tedious and itchy it becomes.
McKay, who reached legendary heights with 2004's Anchorman before settling on mid-level (Talladega Nights) and flat-out putrid (Step Brothers) fare, is a director who clearly pulls no punches and isn't afraid to inject his films with a good dose of absurdity - the problem is that he doesn't know when to reel it in. Thus, The Other Guys is like the result of a drunken game of darts - there a few bullseye's, but also some that are waywardly wedged into the adjacent wall.
The film begins on a fast-paced fury of criminal activity and the cops who so glamorously relish in putting them down. In this particular case, it's the dream-team duo of Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), the East Coast version of Tango & Cash if they started off liking each other.
As they're off saving the day and getting the babes, sitting idle behind a desk and gnawing at each other are detective's Allen Gamble (Will Ferell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). One is obsessed with breaking through into the limelight while the other is obsessed with staying out of it.
Our unlikely partners soon find themselves in the middle of a multi-billion dollar scheme involving a snobby investment mogul (Steve Coogan) which McKay and co-writer Chris Henchy exploit to express their views on everything from Enron to Ponzi to AIG bailouts, but also to turn our heroes into financial age Robin Hoods, ridding the world of corporate thievery one bad guy at a time.
The plot, however, is too inane to become invested in and instead, the second-half of The Other Guys is just a cut-and-paste assortment of clip-length jokes and ideas (like a misfired freeze-frame drinking session set to The Black Eyed Peas "Imma Be") that makes for an extraneous plod to the finish line.
The film does feature wonderfully integrated location work, fitting New York City right into its wonderful ensemble cast and picking up the action with ease thanks to producer Patrick Crowley (The Bourne Trilogy) and his crew who bring a zesty flavor of destruction to these oh so silly proceedings.
There are some wonderful recurring motifs that I loved including Mark Wahlberg's Terry Hoitz thinking every bad guy is somehow involved in a well-connected drug cartel or Michael Keaton's Captain Mauch quoting TLC, but mostly The Other Guys, as funny as it can be, is too undisciplined and too reckless to fully enjoy for its near two-hour running time. I really liked these guys, I just got sick of them after a while. [C+]