Typically with action films, the story's focus is on the heroes, who are usually alpha males: strong, brash, good-looking men who don't get bogged down by the rules or their superiors when they have a job to do and a bad guy to put away. If a few dead bodies get left behind in their wake, so be it.
Detectives Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) are two such action heroes. They're utterly fearless in the film's opening sequence as we see them racing through the streets of New York. Danson leaps from one moving vehicle to another, Highsmith continues the pursuit by commandeering a double-decker bus after he crashes into it, and both have their guns a-blazing when they're in high-speed pursuit.
This is not their story.
Screenwriters Adam McKay & Chris Henchy have instead chosen to focus on 'The Other Guys' from those action movies, the ones seen in the background at the police station, who never get involved with the on-screen action, the result is an amusing action/comedy hybrid. Will Ferrell, in his fourth feature film collaboration with director McKay after 'Anchorman,' 'Talladega Nights,' and 'Step Brothers,' plays Allen Gamble, who is more interested in paperwork than perps and gets no respect from his fellow officers. That includes his beleaguered partner, Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who is not happy he got stuck with Gamble as punishment after an incident with a notable New Yorker.
Taking a page from TV's 'Law & Order', McKay & Henchy write a story ripped from the headlines about some Wall Street shenanigans as David Ershon (Steve Coogan) tries to cover major loses, paving the way for Gamble's skills. Although the film has a lot of laughs, this appears to be a serious issue with the filmmakers, as during the closing credits animated graphics reveals detail of corruption taking place on Wall Street that you'd more likely expect to see at that the end of a documentary by Michael Moore.
McKay does well as director, balancing comedy and action. The film has better than expected stunt work. Solving the case to resolve the story is important, resulting in a comedic lull towards the end of the film as plotlines get tied up. Most of the humor is grounded in the reality of the action world they create and never gets too absurd. McKay is obviously comfortable letting the actors improvise to extract as much humor as possible. The scene between Gamble and Hoitz arguing about a fight between a lion and a school of tuna feels like the actors are riffing but doesn't go too long and McKay shows the same patience when Gamble's Prius is recovered after some homeless people use it.
The supporting cast is very good. Johnson and Jackson straddle action and comedy so well, I wouldn't surprised if we saw them in similar roles, possibly paired together, in future films. Rob Riggle and Damon Wayans, Jr. work well off each other as foils for Gamble and Hoitz. Natalie Zea is hysterical as Christinith the crazy ex-girlfriend who wants Gamble back. With his performances here as Captain Gene Mauch and as Ken in 'Toy Story 3,' Michael Keaton is pound for pound the funniest actor of the year. If they gave out "Comeback of the Year" awards, he'd get my vote.
'The Other Guys' isn’t a spoof of the genre; rather it's a comedy set within an action film, which is why both aspects are given equal attention by McKay and his team, to satisfying results.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Other Guys – The Unrated Other Edition' comes on a single 50GB Blu-ray disc housed in a blue keepcase. After an ad for Sony 3D, the menu allows for the selection if either the theatrical or unrated versions. The latter is nine minutes longer and the home viewer can be notified of the new material by a marker, if so inclined. The disc is Region Free. There are previews for 'The Social Network,' 'Salt' and 'Easy A.'
The video is presented with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and is better than expected. The image is sharp, illustrated well during a scene where the camera moves through a bar Gamble and Hoitz are partying at and seamlessly displays different frozen moments of their exploits. It's a very impressive scene.
Colors are solidly rendered throughout and appear natural. Blacks come across the same, contributing to a good, consistent contrast throughout. Items don't get lost in the shadows. Depth comes through clear, especially on the shot of Danson and Highsmith jumping off the roof. The entire transfer appears free of digital artifacts
Here's where the film seems closer to action than comedy as the English DTS-HD Master 5.1 track is sure to get your attention with its impressive output. The dialogue is clear and balanced well with the music and the effects, never lost to the cacophony that bursts out the speakers from the action scenes.
Not only do the cars sweep across channels, but so does a massive wrecking ball, punctuated by a thunderous subwoofer boom when it connects. Explosions also benefit from the solid bass support. The surrounds are filled with the occasional rounds of raining gunfire and the whooshing of helicopter blades during Act III chase.
Action fans should be more than happy with this audio track.
Although it would be understandable if movie-watchers were experiencing a bit of Ferrell fatigue, I would recommend 'The Other Guys' as the action helps balance out the comedy and the load is shared by other actors. Director McKay also does plenty to keep action fans interested. This Blu-ray is enjoyable, especially for the ears, and for those who love digging through extras, this edition offers over 100 minutes worth.