"anchorman with police, except not quite as funny"
Will Ferrell has a problem. Ever since Anchorman, none of his films (with the possible exception of Step Brothers) have hit the same comic heights (see Talladega Nights, Semi Pro and Land of the Lost if you don't believe me), and the genius character of Ron Burgundy has yet to be replicated.
The Other Guys is the latest effort from Ferrell and McKay to recapture the magic of Anchorman. We follow the paths of Detectives Gamble and Hoitz (played by Ferrell and Whalberg) as they seek to uncover the truth behind the increasingly suspicious activities of multi-billionaire David Ershon (Steve Coogan).
First things first, Will Ferrell is genius. Detective Allen Gamble (and his alter ego 'Gator') without a shadow of a doubt steals the show. Im going to go out on a limb and say that the character is on a par with the legendary Ron Burgundy - the one-liners are there, along with the "je ne sais quoi" that made Burgundy such a hero.
Here though, the similarities end. Anchorman was genius not only because of the performance of Ferrell, but because he was backed up by other comic greats - Vince Vaughn, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd (to name but three) - and as an ensemble cast, I think it's yet to be surpassed. For me, the issue with The Other Guys is that both Ferrell is flying solo - the casting and characters throughout the rest of the film just don't work. Now I love Mark Whakberg, but he's not known for his comedic ability, and his character, Detective Hoitz almost appears as an afterthought, providing more confusion than laughs.
That said, it's not all doom and gloom. The first 10 minutes with Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson are brilliant, and it's a shame they only make a cameo in the film as I think as a foil to Ferrell they would have worked brilliantly. What also took me by surprise was the heavy political undertone to the film, which points a rather large finger at the irresponsible trading by multi-national corporations as being at fault for the global economic crash, and chastises the policing of these corporations in the USA.
To sum it up, awesome performance by Ferrell, but that alone isn't enough to make an awesome film.