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The Other Guys 

Comedy starts strong before shooting itself in the foot

THE OTHER GUYS

**1/2

It makes perfect sense for a film like, say, An Inconvenient Truth or Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to end with some sort of plea to our sense of activism or with a mountain of hard data about the evils of unchecked capitalism. But what to make of The Other Guys, featuring closing credits that are packed with statistics concerning government bailouts and the glaring discrepancy between the average salaries of CEOs and the rest of us poor schmucks? No matter: The film's ample laughs had already dried up long before this ode to Michael Moore muckraking.

That's a shame, because for its first hour, The Other Guys is a very funny movie, as two desk cops, Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), are provided a chance to step up once New York's finest, the dynamic duo of Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson), are put out of commission.

Terry's a hotheaded lawman who's been itching to get back out on the streets, while Allen is a nerd who's content sitting at his desk and doing other officers' paperwork. But a rather commonplace charge against a Wall Street financier (Steve Coogan) inadvertently gets the pair involved in a high-stakes swindle that leaves them frequently being chewed out by their superior (Michael Keaton) or fired upon by assorted thugs.

Ferrell holds his excesses in check more than usual (though still not enough to my liking), and he and Wahlberg prove to be an amusing team -- whether scripted or improvised, their banter is often top-grade. But humor largely vacates the building during the second half, as the emphasis is placed more on autopilot action sequences and, worse, a topical, torn-from-the-headlines scam that's an ill -- and dull -- fit for this sort of raucous outing.

But if an odd-couple comedy is unequivocally what you seek, I'd recommend -- by a hair -- going to check out the other guys: Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in Dinner for Schmucks.

 

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