The Other Guys (1/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 107 minutes
Not for children.
These are the saddest of
Tinker to Evers to Chance…
Franklin P. Adams, (aka FPA),
Baseball’s Sad Lexicon 1910.
FPA obviously never heard the
words “Will” or “Ferrell” or he would never have promoted “Tinker to
Evers to Chance” over “Will Ferrell,” had he been a movie fan (to be
fair, his poem was written when movies were aborning).
This latest edition of
Ferrell’s work raised an interesting question. If you put a bunch of
highly competent and qualified actors, like Dwayne Johnson, Mark
Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton (whose character is named
Gene Mauch, the name of a former second baseman with the minor league
Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox, and major league manager who
won more games without getting into a World Series than any other
manager), and Eva Mendes into a film with Ferrell, will they raise him
to their level or will he lower the lot to his level?
This film answers that
question. Directed and written (with Chris Henchy) by Adam McKay, this
fits right in with such Ferrell drivel as Taladega Nights (2006)
and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), both
written by McKay. Both films feature Ferrell in the same role, a
character who is ingenuous to a fault. Like those films, it is not
funny; it makes absolutely no sense; Ferrell’s character is so
over-the-top imbecilic that it defies humor; and it has scenes that are
excruciating to watch.
Just as an example, Mendes
(who is Ferrell’s wife) sends her mother out to Ferrell as a courier.
She traipses out and says lots of foul things to him from Mendes. Then
she goes back to Mendes and says foul things to her; then back to
Ferrell, on and on, each time repeating things they want to do to each
other that are base, to give them the best of it.
McKay and Ferrell come from
Saturday Night Live, which is a late night show that has been the
spawning ground for lots of movie stars, like Steve Martin, John Belushi
and his crowd, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal; the list goes on. While it
is true that SNL has been the source of some classic comic routines, the
ratio of class to trash is about 1 to 100. SNL’s stock in trade is low
class material. For every treasure, there are at least 100 duds like the
vomitorium. McKay and Ferrell insist on creating dud after dud.
Ferrell, who is a high ranking
member of the goofy Hollywood left, couldn’t help but put in a dig at
Justice Scalia. Like everything else in the movie, the dig is
inappropriate and makes no sense. It’s just a gratuitous insult out of
nowhere. When will these nitwits realize that America is still a
center-right country and, regardless of political orientation, has no
interest in what some Hollywood pretty face thinks about anything? Maybe
if what Ferrell did or said was actually funny, like Will Rogers (“I’m
not a member of any organized political party; I’m a Democrat”),
occasional forays into politics, if they were non partisan, might work.
But he’s neither funny nor intuitive, nor non partisan.
Wahlberg and Ferrell are all
over the airwaves promoting this thing. I’ve watched them several times
and they, along with Mendes, litanize out of he same playbook about how
much fun everyone had while making it. Clearly they couldn’t promote how
much fun it is to watch it, so that’s about all they can do to try to
entice people into coming.
This film is not only
disgustingly prosaic, it’s advertisements border on fraud when they
parrot the presence of Jackson and Johnson as headliners in the cast. In
fact, both die in the opening scenes and are never seen again.
McKay seems to think that just
because he’s directing something that is to be presented as a “comedy”
the film can possess plot holes that defy explanation. Example: Wahlberg
and Ferrell are being chased through New York City in a car chase. They
turn a corner and their car disappears. The chasing cars give up the
chase because they can’t find them. Where were they? They were in a
stack of perfectly aligned cars, like cars waiting to be shipped, on the
top row. How did the car get up in a perfect place on top of the other
cars? In the space of five seconds? Even comedies have to have some sort
of correlation to reason, but that seems to have escaped McKay and
Ferrell, who, as Executive Producer, is in almost every scene.
Ferrell has only surprised me
twice. I liked his first starring role, Elf (2004), where he
first tried out this ingenuous character. Like Charlie Chaplin with the
tramp, Ferrell has continued to play the same character, even though it
was already getting stale at the end of Elf. Unlike Chaplin’s
character, Ferrell’s is not only not lovable, it’s not even likeable.
Then he did a good job when he ventured away from his attempts at comedy
in Stranger Than Fiction (2006). Other than those, his
performances have been less than pathetic, insulting even, and this is
Walhberg, Mendes, Keaton, and
Steve Coogan as the guy everybody is after, give good performances with
the woeful material. But not nearly good enough.