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Other Guys, The

8/10

Stars: Will Ferrell. Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Damon Wayans Jr, Ray Stevenson, Natalie Zea, Andy Buckley, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, Adam McKay, Josef Sommer, Anne Heche, Ice T (narrator)

Director: Adam McKay

After a stream of laughless Hollywood comedies, here's one that bucks the trend. The basic reason for the success of this Will Ferrell vehicle is that the script and situations are always coming up with the unexpected. In the middle of normal dialogue comes a line that's completely skewed and makes you laugh even as it takes you by surprise.

Ace police enforcers are Highsmith (Jackson) and Danson (Johnson), whose crime-busting exploits thrill the city even as they cost its citizens millions in damages. Very much in the background at the local copshop, bossed by Capt Gene (Keaton) are pen-pusher Allen (Ferrell) and chip-on-shoulder Terry (Wahlberg), the latter demoted to desk duty after shooting a football star by mistake and altering the course of a game.

But when Highsmith and Danson decide on a flying leap into bushes from the top of a building, and land on concrete instead, it's time for the Other Guys to step forward.

Terry feels alive again as they shoot off to answer a call. 'You feel those butterflies in your balls, and tingling in your stomach?' he asks. Responds bespectacled, brow-furrowed Allen: 'You sure you don't have testicular cancer?'

Alas, they botch the first job so badly, running over both the victim and a fortune in heroin, that Capt Gene rewards Allen with a wooden gun.

Invited to Allen's home to drown their woes, Terry is amazed to find his bookish partner married to the hottest seņorita (Mendes) in the city. Terry fawns over her in lapdog fashion, even as he's stunned by their racy exchanges. Even Allen's exes, much to Terry's confusion, prove to be drop dead gorgeous.

And so it goes. When the prize pair finally lay hands on the Wall St fraudster (Coogan) that their initially innocuous enquiries have led them to, they embark on a high-speed chase from those out to silence him. Pushing him down to avoid bullets, Allen says: 'God, your hair's soft.' See what I mean: always the unexpected - and it works.

There's lots of action, too, amid the fun, some of it convincing, some less so, and a hilarious sequence where Mendes, under surveillance by the bad guys, relays raunchy messages to an Allen-in-hiding via an increasingly reluctant granny. If they can keep this standard up, The Other Guys is well worth a sequel.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 Sep 2010