The two best cops on the force are Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson), who always get the baddies no matter how much damage they cause or what the cost to human life is, and the citizens of New York City love them for it. They can cause car smashes, explode the front off buildings, any amount of mayhem, but if they get results then where's the harm? That's the reason why they are so lauded, and that's the reason they don't bother doing their paperwork. That kind of thing is best left to the other guys, like deskbound cops Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) - and nobody takes them seriously...
Just as it was getting so that Will Ferrell was outstaying his welcome by producing the same tired old improvisation and passing it off as a story to his latest movie, along came The Other Guys to reinvigorate his standing. Working again with Adam McKay, who had provided him with his cult favourite Anchorman among others, this item had an unusual effect on many of those who saw it and were familiar with the Ferrell shtick: if you thought you enjoyed his comedies then the chances were this may well have left you cold, but if you thought you'd seen enough then you would probably find yourself laughing.
A lot, as while there was nothing much new about what they came up with here, somehow it all fitted together in its rambling, digressive manner, perhaps because for the first time a Ferrell comedy had a social conscience underneath all the foolishness. As the end credits indicated, the double dealings of big business and the major banks, a scandal very much in the news during 2010, was what offered the backdrop and in an oblique way the target of the humour, as Steve Coogan essayed the role of the supposed villain as an ineffectual British banker who nevertheless has spent a massive amount of other people's money on fraud, and is now trying to wriggle out of the consequences.
But that was not all there was in the movie's sights, as a considerably more amiable point to The Other Guys was to send up the buddy cop movie, not exactly a fresh idea, and on this evidence inspired by the artistic success of Hot Fuzz, which shared a dynamic between the two "buddies". Gamble is a mild mannered butt of the office's jokes, preferring life at his desk to life on the beat, while his partner Hoitz is a loose cannon frustrated by the situation, but effectively being punished for a professional indiscretion (he shot the wrong guy). It was nothing we hadn't seen plenty of times before, yet Ferrell and Wahlberg's dedication to straight-faced absurdity generated many big laughs.
Their chief (a TLC-quoting Michael Keaton) allows them to go back on the streets, although Gamble is reluctant, after those two major league cops who hog the opening ten minutes hit a snag stemming from their overconfidence. Before long the duo have run over the body at a crime scene and had their car covered in cocaine, then as if that was not enough, when they try to arrest Coogan's Sir David Ershon they end up losing the car, their phones and their shoes, all apparently because they were overruled by some operatives higher up the authority food chain. But they begin to latch onto the corruption going on, and if you can follow it - the near-endless distractions make it incredible that our heroes managed to get anything done whatsoever, never bothering how the audience feels - you should pick up on the anti-big business themes. In the main, though, you'll be picking up on the ridiculous humour, neat interplay, and winning non-sequiturs; if you were sympathetic, this would remind you how good these filmmakers could be when they set their minds to it. Music by John Brion.