This post is long overdue. I saw The Other Guys almost two weeks ago. I’ve been busy, but that isn’t why I haven’t reviewed it. “Busy” still usually includes a few hours at the end of the night stoned on the couch. Or I could’ve gotten it done during one of my I-can’t-believe-I’m-still-doing-this graveyard shifts. The truth is I couldn’t really figure out what to say about this movie. I can’t call it good or bad. I laughed, but I also didn’t laugh. I still don’t really know what I’m going to say here.
I guess I should begin (and maybe end) with Ferrell. I love Will Ferrell, always have. He was the best SNL cast member ever, and it isn’t close. He always makes me laugh. Yes, he’s done some family oriented material I haven’t enjoyed, but I’m willing to look the other way on that seeing as how every single star does it. Kids movies, fine, whatever. Just keep the real comedies coming and I’ll be fine. Ferrell has done that.
Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed in him. His performance in The Other Guys is a perfect example of why. He’s funny. Really funny, even. But the character, how do I say this…..there isn’t much to it. It’s just Ferrell doing his thing. More and more, I’m noticing that his characters are really malleable. Whatever type of laugh he wants to go for, his character can accommodate. This is good, in a way. It lets him be many different types of funny. But it also prevents him from creating any really classic characters. Frank the Tank was by far his best, but that was a long time ago. Even Ron Burgundy was essentially a comedy chameleon; he just seemed more classic because of the mustache and the 70s thing. You still can’t really nail that character down.
George Costanza. Gob Bluth. David Brent. These are classic characters. Their personalities are totally filled out. You know how they would react to any given situation. Other examples are Austin Powers, Ace Ventura, either character in Dumb and Dumber, Tobias Funke, Kramer, Fletch, MacGruber, Anyone from Wet Hot American Summer, and obviously Kenny Powers. These are legit characters. They could exist beyond what you see on the screen. Their personalities are fully formed. We know them. I can’t honestly say that I know Ricky Bobby, Jackie Moon, Chaz Michael Michaels or even Ron Burgundy. Funny names. Funny actor. That’s it.
It’s weird, because so much of SNL is creating characters, right? Well, sort of. It’s really about creating characters than can exist for 5 minutes. Ferrell was the best ever at that. In a way, it’s what he’s still doing. Every scene is like another sketch. He’ll get the laugh any way he can. Continuity of character is secondary.
I sound like such a prick. It makes sense though, doesn’t it?
I don’t want it to seem like I hated The Other Guys, but it was definitely more of the same. These movies are funny, just never quite as funny as I hope they’ll be. My hopes for Ferrell were unfairly high. I realize that now. But seven years ago I thought he was about to teach us all how to laugh. Really laugh. It hasn’t quite happened that way. He’s still awesome.
Mark Wahlberg was Mark Wahlberg, you know how that goes. He’s doing that shtick that was great in I Heart Huckabees, good in The Departed, and a little stale now. I still kinda like Wahlberg. But remember how great he was in Huckabees? I feel like that was probably his ceiling.
The cast in its entirety was actually pretty average with the exceptions of Michael Keaton and my boy Brett Gelman. Gelman is a comic I saw once two years ago when he was still living in NYC. He did the best standup set I’ve seen up here by far. I talked to him afterwards, told him how impressed I was. He seemed like a cool guy. He’s the Little bit o’Luck guy, for all you New Yorkers. Anyway, he’s on-screen for about five minutes and is hilarious the whole time. Look out for this guy, seriously.
Keaton was more of a surprise. He’s never been funny, that I know of*. But here he was next to Will Ferrell holding his own. A really weird, impressive performance. I didn’t know Keaton had it in him. You really should see it if you’re a Keaton fan, it is just bizarre. His character’s name is Gene. Off to a good start, right?
*I’m now remembering that he was actually pretty funny as Beetlejuice.
The movie itself is, I don’t know, a comedy caper just like any other. It’s never really the story that brings you to these things. This one seemed especially threadbare, in fact at times I wasn’t paying attention to the plot at all. Maybe that on me, I don’t know. I was just cruising through, lookin’ for laughs. I found them, for the most part, so I can’t really complain.
Except yeah, I will complain. The movie just wasn’t that good. Wait for Netflix.
next: The Expendables