Back in 2010, Will Ferrell teamed up with Mark Wahlberg and made a pretty good Adam McKay film that was both exciting and funny. And that’s the movie I’m reviewing today. The movie has a nice satirical screenplay, two funny leading actors, and a powerful supporting cast of A-list actors. This film is very Adam McKay, but it is Adam McKay at his very best (not very, The Big Short and Anchorman were better, but still great).
Will Ferrell is funny, but he is the funniest when he doesn’t overplay his character and instead lets his very subtle comedic genius take full reign. And that is exactly what he does in this film, he lets his subtle sweetness and quirkiness take over this film and he does the mildly-cliché sudden bursts of angers pretty well. The performance is cliche, but that’s how it is. Mark Wahlberg plays opposite Ferrell as the much more aggressive cop who is desperately trying to make his way up the ladder of hierarchy. Wahlberg’s performance is les charming than Ferrell’s, but it’s the interesting dynamic between the two characters that makes the movie so fun and keeps the screenplay interesting for the full 107 minute runtime.
Michael Keaton plays the two leads’ captain who unknowingly quotes TLC songs, and Keaton’s seriousness mixed with the awkward situational comedy doesn’t really seem to work. Keaton in this movie seems to lack comedic timing and deliverance. Eva Mendes plays Ferrell’s wife, and despite the Jerry (or is it Gary?) from Parks and Recreation motif (which is funny), Ferrell and Mendes have a very awkward and uncomfortable dynamic that really messes with the otherwise interesting Will Ferrell character. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson play two idolized real-life heroes who seem to save the day day-after-day. They play well, they’re funny, and they work great together. But that’s exactly what you would expect from such seasoned actors.
Another funky pair is contrived by Rob Riggle and Damon Wayas Jr. who play Ferrel and Wahlberg’s rival cops. These two actors are also funny and work great together. Then there’s Steve Coogan who plays the corrupt Wall street investor who gets kidnapped, and much like Coogan in funny roles: he is onpoint. He understands comic timing very well and manages to steal every scene he’s in. And finally there’s Ray Stevenson who reprises his role from Dexter. Seriously it is the exact same character. But he plays the character well, and that’s all that matters.
The actors are for the most part good, but to hold up a movie the actors need a good screenplay and that’s what they have. The screenplay has a whole handful of funny moments and laughs and a pretty well-rounded plot that gets the viewer engaged, but not too connected so they can’t laugh at Ferrell and Wahlberg’s despair. The film also features a hilarious monologue about a tuna and a lion that makes the film worth watching. The only problem however is– much like most of these type films– there are too many characters and the individual characters don’t get to really shine that much due to their limited screentime. And another general note is that the whole film seems a little awkward with every actor in every part being a big-name, A-list actor. I would have been fine if there were a few unknowns in some of the parts.
Altogether though, this is one of Adam McKay’s better films. The film is kept afloat by a pretty good screenplay and a whole lot of talented funny actors an Michael Keaton is also in it (that was mean… he’s making a comeback now though with Birdman and Spotlight…). So overall if you are a fan of McKay or Ferrell or Wahlberg or silly comedies, this is one of the much better options.
Best Aspect- Steve Coogan and Will Ferrell
Worst Aspect- Michael Keaton