GENRE: Buddy-cop comedy
THE PITCH: With New York's super-detectives Danson and Highsmith (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) out of commission, disgraced hot-head Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) and meek forensic accountant Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) seize a chance to escape desk duty and break a huge case involving a sleazy financier (Steve Coogan).
MONEY SHOTS: The hilariously overblown intro with Danson and Highsmith sends up police clichés like it's the film Last Action Hero wanted to be. Later, the two übercops overreach spectacularly. Allen's captain (Michael Keaton) confiscates his gun and gives him a wooden replica instead. Terry and Allen narrowly escape a massive explosion, then shriek and flail over their hurt ear drums. We see how Terry and Allen party at a bar through a mural of freeze-frame images accompanied by the Black-Eyed Peas' "Imma Be." It's pretty great.
BEST LINE: In an Irish bar, Allen sings a gloomy ballad that concludes, "Their fathers all were hanged, and their children all got pink-eye, and all their Harry Potter books were burnnned." We also discover an unsavory slang definition for a "soup kitchen."
BEST BAD LINE: "Did someone call 9-1-Holy shit?!!'" Samuel L. Jackson hollers when his vehicle crashes into a tour bus.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: I doubt the companies paid for the privilege, but The Other Guys prominently and repeatedly uses Bed, Bath and Beyond and the Toyota Prius as non-masculine punch lines. For example, one bullying cop says of Allen's Prius, "I think my Suburban shit one of these last night." Oreo Cakesters, Mister Softee, the original location of Nathan's Hot Dogs, and Broadway's Jersey Boys also make conspicuous appearances.
CAMEOS: "The Office" bit players Zach Woods and Andy Buckley have small roles. Director Adam McKay turns up as homeless "Dirty Mike." Several celebrities appear courtside at the Knicks, including Tracy Morgan, who took on buddy-cop clichés earlier this year with Cop Out. For some reason, the Internet Movie Database fails to include Anne Heche, but she's definitely in the film as a scheming executive. Author/politician Malachy McCourt (brother of the Angela's Ashes author) hangs out in a pub.
SOUNDTRACK HITS: Little River Band's "Reminiscing" and Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" pop up for wussy kitsch factor. The unlikely lullaby "Pimps Don't Cry" gets a full-on R&B version over the closing credits by Cee-Lo and Eva Mendes.
EXTRAS: The closing credits feature elaborate, MoveOn-type animation about "How a Ponzi scheme works," the TARP bailout and inequities of executive pay. It's actually fairly informative. The little outtake tagged onto the end wouldn't be worth sitting around for on its own.
IN-JOKES: The Other Guys riffs on action films through everything from Sam Jackson's Shaft coat to a poster for Sylvester Stallone's Cobra. But what's the deal with the two minions who look like Jackson and Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction?
ARE THEY KIDDING OR WHAT? OK, I get how The Other Guys' mean cops reveal their own boorishness by subjecting Allen to "Girly man" insults like, "The sound of your piss hitting a urinal? It sounds feminine." Combined with gags about prostitution and Allen repeatedly insulting the appearance of his wife (Eva Mendes), though, it's like the comedy gets stuck in this misogynist, homophobic spiral that it barely escapes.
THE BOTTOM LINE: For about an hour, The Other Guys comes on like comedic gangbusters, with Wahlberg's misplaced machismo providing a good foil for Ferrell's increasingly unhinged antics. The cop clichés give Ferrell and director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights) plenty to riff on for a while, but once the good gags peter out, the lumbering action scenes prove less than arresting.
I can see Rushdie's stuff adapting well. Lots of plot to play with.