The recipe for The Other Guys is fairly simple. You take Will Ferrell's comedic talents, throw in Mark Wahlberg's action talents, then sprinkle in a vast array of talented supporting actors with capable director Adam McKay at the helm, and you get one of the best buddy cop comedies of the past few years.
Everyone looks up to capable, cool detectives and there are none better in the New York Police Department than Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson). And then there are the other guys. Allen Gamble (Ferrell) is a mild-mannered NYPD detective who thrives on paperwork and adores accounting. His partner, Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg), is ready to hit the streets, take names, and serve some justice; but he's stuck with Gamble after a humiliating shooting incident. They're the laughingstock of the department, don't get along very well with each other, and also can't seem to get a case. All that changes when Gamble notices a certain company has repeated construction permit violations, and the two are given a chance to do some real police work. They soon discover the company in question to be involved in much more serious underhanded financial dealings and things start to get grim.
Through all this, Hoitz and Gamble slowly begin to become friends as well as partners, and Hoitz even comes over for dinner and meets Gamble's wife, Sheila (Eva Mendes). One of the best scenes in the film revolves around a surprised Hoitz reacting to the fact that a woman as beautiful as Sheila would be with a man like Allen Gamble, who continually apologizes to Hoitz for his "plain" wife. Despite Gamble's protestations over his "plain" wife and her terrible cooking, it's clear that Sheila and Allen are very much in love.
After a few significant missteps, Hoitz and Gamble's commanding officer, Captain Mauch (Michael Keaton), benches them, but the two continue working the case against all odds. When things get dangerous, the duo must go on the lam and prove themselves capable of more than just screwing up.
This is one of Wahlberg's first intentional attempts at making a comedy, and in a crowd of seasoned comedic actors and improv experts, he does remarkably well for himself, a wonderful foil to Ferrell's quirky kook. Adam McKay is the writer and director; you'll remember his other films with Ferrell: Anchorman, Step Brothers, and Talladega Nights. Will Ferrell is fairly standard issue in this film -- you either love his style of comedy or you don't, and if you like Will Ferrell comedies, you will love this movie. As far as supporting actors go, Michael Keaton stands out as the good-natured commanding officer and Eva Mendes, not necessarily known for her comedy chops, plays her role of the doting wife with ease and grace.
There are a few great gags in the film, one involving the constant quoting of lyrics by the band TLC, and another that revolves around the quietest brawl you'll ever encounter. The Ponzi-scheme plot is thick enough to support the buddy cop comedy antics that make the film funny, but it's not handled in a preachy fashion. One of the more interesting decisions is found in the credits, when the economic crimes committed by Bernie Madoff and others like him are presented in infographics detailing how much money was spent in bonuses on bailed-out companies and various other infuriating figures.
The film is quite funny, and there are even a few one-liners that stand out. There's nothing spectacular in the way of film mechanics here, no unexpectedly beautiful cinematography or production design. But that's not what the film is about as everything is in service of humor. The story does seem to drag at a few points, and it never hits the high notes of Anchorman, but everyone involved brings the funny. One of the bright spots in an otherwise dreary summer movie season, The Other Guys is a fine addition to the Will Ferrell lineup.