New York cops Gamble and Hoitz (Ferrell and Wahlberg) have been relegated to unimportant positions by two teams of flashier detectives (Jackson/Johnson and Wayans/Riggle). But when Gamble arrests a millionaire investor (Coogan) for a minor infraction, he and Hoitz are plunged into a murky case involving a ruthless Aussie goon (Stevenson) and bribed city officials. Even their captain (Keaton) tells them to leave it alone, but Gamble can't let go and Hoitz sees this as a chance to stop being the "other guys".
The hilariously over-the-top opening chase (and press conference), with Jackson and Johnson as rock-star cops, is so funny that we wonder if McKay can sustain this for the entire film. What follows is a relentless, riotous barrage of subtle gags, broad nuttiness and inspired action. It's so smartly written and played that a much higher percentage of the jokes hit their target. And things only sag due to the confusing investment scandal at the centre of the story.
Even though we can't quite follow it, or care really, this financial narrative at least adds a layer of relevance to a movie that's already packed with big themes. Mendes' role as Ferrell's improbably hot wife is deeply silly, and yet she manages to grow the character into something both funnier and more interesting than expected. And it's great to see Keaton deploying his considerable comedic skills as this amusing, TLC-quoting cop.
But of course this is a buddy movie, and much of the film's success is due to the central duo's lively chemistry. Ferrell's oddball nerd and Wahlberg's tetchy grouch threaten to become annoying cartoon characters, but both deepen cleverly due to a rapid-fire series of personal revelations that are impeccably played dead straight. And through all of this, McKay finds connections that make the humour increasingly uproarious. By the end, we realise that this is the only blockbuster this summer that we hope will spark a sequel.
Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Friday 6th August 2010
Box Office USA: $119.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $152M
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Gary Sanchez Productions, Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 155 Rotten: 42
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell as Detective Allen Gamble, Mark Wahlberg as Detective Terry Hoitz, Eva Mendes as Sheila Gamble, Samuel L. Jackson as P.K. Highsmith, Dwayne Johnson as Christopher Danson, Michael Keaton as Character, Brett Gelman as Hal, Ray Stevenson as Roger Wesley, Roy T. Anderson as Rasta, Larnell Stovall as Rasta, Steve Coogan as David Ershon, Rob Riggle as Martin, Damon Wayans Jr. as Fosse, Bobby Cannavale as Jimmy, Brooke Shields as Brooke Shields
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