The Other Guys

It is most definitely true for me, and maybe for some of you, that to see a movie I have to be in a certain mood and the film of choice has to be so kind as to deliver itself to my expectations and oblige me. Twists and surprises are all more than welcome because it’s not about plot as much as mood. The last couple of weeks my moods have been up and down like a trampolining kangaroo and that’s made it particularly difficult for the movie world and I am sorry for it. This is compounded because every bit of me longs to see the latest film by my favourite director, David Fincher, but, as usual, the wait is longer here in the UK and it means that I’m having to engage with internet moviedom while wearing blinkers, so that all reference to The Social Network can be filtered out.

That has left me with a choice of movies that will find it difficult to please me. There are two films this week that I have been switching between seeing and still have yet to see either. I want to see The Town because of Ben Affleck and Boston but I’m not in the mood for a heist movie and I want to see Buried because it sounds like a tremendous piece of acting by Ryan Reynolds in some unpleasant conditions but I am a certifiable claustrophobiac and I’m not sure that 90 minutes of panic attacks make for a pleasant cinema experience however comfy the seats.

Therefore, the ticket this week went to The Other Guys. It had three simple tasks – amuse me and distract me and don’t let me get annoyed with Mark Wahlberg. I rarely see comedies at the cinema. I often see films with a comedic element – Cyrus is a recent example – but not out and out ‘we’re going to make you laugh whether you like it or not’ films. If it counts, Piranha 3D was the last one, but apart from that I think it may have been Get Smart with Anne Hathaway and Land of the Lost with The Other Guys’ Will Ferrell. I think I am the only person I’ve met who loved every minute of Land of the Lost, right down to Anna Friel’s horrifying accent, those druggie coconut things and the plastic lizard people. Will Ferrell has to take much of the credit for it – he can make everything and nothing funny. Because of him, I thought I’d give The Other Guys a go because I thought he’d cheer me up in the way a heist movie and and a horror film about a deadly hole at the bottom of a house can’t.

By comparison, Mark Walhberg can make everything not funny. And so it was because of him I had doubts. Nevertheless, I took comfort with how I had managed to cope with the Mark Wahlberg Factor in The Perfect Storm and went along. The trailer for The Social Network before it made me sink just a little into my non-premium seat.

What makes a person laugh is a very personal matter and, for me, there is a fine line between something that is witty and cleverly funny and something that is supposed to make you laugh because the hero traps his willy in his fly or films that think foreigners are stupid with outrageous accents or that women are funnier the shorter their skirts. Obviously I don’t include ‘Allo ‘Allo in that… At the start of The Other Guys I wondered if I’d made a mistake and if maybe I should try and work out which screen was showing The Town after all. I gave the film half an hour to sort itself out or there would be trouble.

Strangely the solution came through the early demise of the actor I’d been most keen to see – Big Sam L Jackson. I see Samuel L Jackson on a screen and I know I believe in him. He can do anything and I will follow where he leads. Stick him in Iron Man and suddenly I know that world is true and women really can run from baddies in Pepper Potts heels. Stick him in Snakes on a Plane and I’m going to laugh and be scared. But The Other Guys only came into its own when the focus was on Ferrell and Wahlberg – one cop a penpusher with a wooden gun, the other a peacock that needed to fly.

As you’d imagine, the story wasn’t too difficult to take in – corrupt businessman (a great Steve Coogan), corrupt businesswoman (Anne Heche), a sexy Aussie gunman (played by sexy Irishman Ray Stevenson), relationships in trouble (despite an ever so understanding Mrs Gamble – Eva Mendes), partners throwing coffee over one another, and misunderstood cops in a prius with a boss (Michael Keaton) who moonlights in a bedstore. In fact, it’s unlikely you’ll remember much of the plot within ten minutes of leaving the theatre because what counts here is how funny Will Ferrell is in every scene he’s in. He even managed to succeed in making me completely overlook Mark Wahlberg and for that I am grateful.

It’s not a film to hold in your mind for too long – it’s one of those movies that appears to dissipate from your mind as the days go by. Nevertheless, it does exactly what it should – it entertains and makes you laugh while you wait until another film comes along to fit a mood. I’m working myself up to Buried – but maybe some of this first.

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