Will Ferrell, left, and Mark Wahlberg play two mismatched New York City detectives who seize an opportunity to step up like the city's top cops. (Columbia Pictures)
'The Other Guys" stars Will Ferrell in a buddy-cop parody. And you might think that would be all you need to say about it.
You know -- a dimwit character, a barrage of jokes, a throwaway plot and some car chases. The required number of laughs to be worth your money.
And all those things apply. But there's a bonus. You also get Mark Wahlberg as the other part of the buddy-cop equation.
And as funny as Ferrell is -- in truth, this is one of his most even and consistent comedies -- Wahlberg is even funnier playing the straight man. His dumbfounded reactions to Ferrell's cluelessness are priceless, and his line readings -- the vast majority of which cannot be repeated here -- are perfect.
The result is twice the number of required laughs to be worth your money.
Wahlberg plays Terry Hoitz, a hard-working New York City cop who has the misfortune to mistakenly shoot baseball star Derek Jeter, a move that gets him busted down to an office job where he works alongside Allen Gamble (Ferrell), a plaid sports coat-wearing desk jockey who's a cop in title only.
Terry is aching to get back out on the street, especially after the force's top two hotshots (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson) are killed, sort-of, in the line of duty. The city needs some heroes, Terry is sure he and Allen can fit the bill. Or at least he can.
But it's Allen who stumbles on to the corruption surrounding a billionaire tycoon (Steve Coogan) who seems to be trying to steal from the state lottery to appease his debts.
As the two begin to investigate -- against the wishes of their captain (Michael Keaton), as in all buddy-cop movies -- Allen takes Terry home to meet the wife. To Terry's never-ending shock, Dr. Sheila Gamble (Eva Mendes) turns out to be insanely hot.
As a matter of fact, every beautiful woman the two encounter seems to develop an instant attraction to the milquetoast Allen. An explanation eventually surfaces, but Terry remains bewildered.
The conventions of the buddy-cop genre eventually weigh the film down a bit with explosions and such, although director and co-writer Adam McKay starts the film off with such an over-the-top genre parody car chase that you know he's never serious.
McKay and Ferrell have been working together since the one was a writer for "Saturday Night Live" and the other a star. The films they've done -- "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," "Step Brothers" -- have become an established (and incredibly successful) brand. It's been one heck of a run, and "The Other Guys" may be their best yet.
Part of that has to do with humanizing Ferrell's character. Yes, he's still a complete buffoon, but a bit more grounded buffoon. He has at least some awareness of his own silliness, unlike, say, Ron Burgundy in "Anchorman."
The other part, though, is Wahlberg. For the first time Ferrell is working with a straight man, not a band of fellow buffoons, and it widens the playing field considerably. It helps, of course, that Wahlberg can play a guileless tough guy with such ease.
Simply put, if you like either of these stars, you've got to see this movie. In terms of flat-out nonstop laughter, it's the best comedy of the summer.