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The Other Guys

The comedy in movies can be so predictable, so it's good to see some talented filmmakers and actors really set the laughs off the leash. Along with Judd Apatow and his acolytes, Adam McKay (aided here by usual partner in crime Will Ferrell) is one of the best at it.

But in a complaint I never thought I'd make after nearly four decades of speaking lines a second before an actor does, they sometimes go too far. Many of the laughs here are just the far side of obscure, a little without direction and a little anchorless.

There's plenty of the sort of gurning you expect and enjoy (Ferrell freaking out in an attempt to be 'worse cop' after misunderstanding his partners' instructions), but given such free reign, some of the material in both the jokes and the structure is a little too off the wall.

In practical terms, one of the consequences is that the character of Terry (Wahlberg) is very flat and indistinct. Is he supposed to be as bumbling (borderline dumb) as his partner Allen (Ferrell), terminally angry or just the straight man to the cast of comics around him? He just never feels fleshed out.

Ferrell, of course, can do this in his sleep, and his shtick is the branding equivalent of Ikea in cheap furniture. The two play just many of the workday schmoe cops in the shadow of the flashy, superhero-like Danson (Johnson) and Highsmith (Jackson).

But when the heroic pair are dispatched from this Earth in a scene more bizarre than funny, Terry thinks it's his and Allen's chance to step up and bust a huge financial scam going on. The rest of the movie is a police procedural by the overzealous, unsuited pair with a lot of comic meat thrown into the grinder. Some of it's obvious, like the gag about Allen's car, and some – like their long suffering captain (Keaton) unwittingly spouting TLC lyrics for inspiration – is almost too wacky to be funny.

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