Review: 'The Other Guys'

(Three stars)

In the pre-credits opening sequence of "The Other Guys," a police car crashes into -- and I mean into as in inside of -- a double-decker bus, and two cars explode into the Trump Tower. All in pursuit of the possessor of a quarter-ounce of marijuana, and at the expense of $12 million in property damages.

Where can the film go from here? Either up or down, depending on how you think of it: up into more outrageous satire of the buddy-cop genre as well as Madoffesque financial shenanigans, or down into hilariously low comedy. Either way, this "Police Work for Schmucks"-type film is often guffaw-out-loud funny, despite a few dead spots.

As detectives Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play unlikely partners. The mousy Allen is happy sitting behind his computer doing accounting for the New York City Police Department, while trigger-tempered Terry itches for battle. When, in the course of his computer work, Allen discovers a humongous case of fraud, the two go into action, with Terry mocking the reluctant Allen all the way. Will the two form a bromantic bond? Stay tuned.

Between the over-the-top car chases, shoot-outs and other mayhem, director/co-writer Adam McKay ("Talladega Nights") slips in sly jokes about the media (journalists at a press conference identify themselves proudly as "print" or, shamefacedly, "online"); counseling for cops who have used guns in the line of duty (the cops brag about their shoot-outs, while the baffled counselor tries to make them feel upset); and Priuses. And, of course, investment bankers.

Ferrell and Wahlberg play off each other with spirit, although some jokes as well as some episodes are stretched a bit thin. The film also features Michael Keaton as the pompous precinct captain, and Samuel L. Jackson, Bobby Cannavale and Dwayne Johnson as cops. Eva Mendes plays Allen's sexy doctor wife, Sheila, and British actor Steve Coogan is the slick Bernie Madoff figure. Playing themselves are Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez and Derek Jeter.

"The Other Guys" may not be the thinking person's summer movie, but it's far from the dumbest. And don't leave before the end credits, in which an animated sequence not only explains Ponzi schemes but also presents enlightening figures about executive salaries, TARP payouts and the like. There's also the song "Pimps Don't Cry," sung by Eva Mendes.

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, violence, some drug material and language. 1 hour, 47 minutes.

— Renata Polt

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Short story writers wanted!

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