06 August 2010

The Other Guys might be the second most interesting Will Ferrell movie EVER!

I went to a showing of The Other Guys today, which I was actually quite looking forward to. I'm generally in favor of Will Ferrell and Mark Walberg is hilarious. I liked the premise and was hoping (though not expecting) something in the neighborhood of Hot Fuzz. What I found, though, which was entirely unexpected was a coyly intelligent critique both of corporate criminals and of Hollywood (or American mass media more generally) selling us a very specific propaganda which often goes unremarked.

Source: rottentomatoes.com
As the closing credits roll, The Other Guys serves up a bevy of Michael-Moore-y statistics about the recent history of corporate excesses.  This was an embarrassment of under-estimating an audience, but the rest of the film provides a smart critique of bureaucracy, machismo and Hollywood cultural imagining.  This happens blatantly in the "real live" reactions to explosions and (hilariously) in Mark Walberg's ballet expertise, which he mastered to make fun of a neighborhood kid who'd been taking ballet ("You learned ballet, ironically?")  The strongest critique, though, is the parallel to The Untouchables and the history of Al Capone.  For all the big-action excitement, first in the opening sequence with the Rock and Sam Jackson, and later in Mark Walberg's incessant desire for "some action" or constant suspicion of drugs being involved...in everything.

 The real quality of a movie like The Other Guys, or any good comedy, really, is in its realism.  The best jokes are funny because they state real, important truths.  The best comedy is good because it says things that need saying.  This movie is not just good because it satirizes action films, nor because it rightfully critiques corporate criminals.  The movie questions our very enjoyment of the films it pokes fun of not because it thinks they are bad products (they are and they aren't, but that is irrelevant).  Rather, it is the complex relationship that any major motion picture has to the underlying rampant capitalism that is being critiqued that makes this movie worth another look, a closer look.

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