Wahlberg and Ferrell Exhibit Chemistry Aplenty as Mismatched Partners in Over-the-Top Comedy
I guess scriptwriting isn’t a lost art in Hollywood after all, given the profusion of hysterical punch lines delivered in this unlikely-buddy comedy co-starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The howl-inducing screenplay comes courtesy of an inspired collaboration between Chris Henchy and Adam McKay, and marks the fourth time Ferrell has been directed by the latter (along with Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers).
As the film unfolds, we meet recently-demoted NYPD Detective Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) in the wake of an embarrassing incident in which he accidentally shot a silhouetted Derek Jeter in the leg while guarding the tunnel to the Yankee Stadium clubhouse. Now, the itchy, trigger-fingered cop has been reassigned to desk duty where he finds himself being mercilessly teased by fellow officers (“You should have shot A-Rod!”) while working in tandem with Allen Gamble (Ferrell), a nerdy accountant who has never spent a day in the field.
Polar opposites, Hoitz is chafing at the bit to return to a beat, while pencil-pusher Gamble is perfectly content to remain stationed inside police headquarters. Initially, their hard-boiled boss’ (Michael Keaton) is determined to keep them under his watchful eye. However, his resolve is shaken when the department’s most high-profile heroes, Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson), make a fatal miscalculation while in hot pursuit of a couple of perps.
In urgent need of replacements, Captain Mauch grudgingly orders the mismatched new partners out on patrol together. And as they proceed to get acquainted while cooped up in prissy Gamble’s city-issued red Prius, the pair’s awkward exchanges prove nothing short of priceless.
For instance, when macho Hoitz gruffly rebuffs an overture of friendship by tossing the gift out of the car window, the unfazed Gamble responds with, “I’m going to climb over that anger wall of yours one of these days and it’s going to be glorious.” Just as hilarious as the badinage, moreover, is the slapstick, such as when they brake too late when rushing to a crime scene only to end up screeching to a stop right atop a chalk-outlined corpse.
Narrated by Ice-T, the film features a whodunit revolving around our hapless protagonists’ efforts to crack a Ponzi scheme hatched by a shady British bloke (Steve Coogan). Still, make no mistake, that quest to bring the hooligan to justice takes a back seat to humor in what is basically a zany buddy vehicle. Each of the leads also has a love interest, with as much mirth being generated by Gamble’s dysfunction marriage to emergency room physician (Eva Mendes) as by possessive Hoitz’s displays of jealousy around his ballerina girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane).
Ferrell at his funniest!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, crude humor, sexuality, violence and drug use.
Running time: 107 Minutes
Studio: 20th Columbia Pictures