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Thursday, September 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 51.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Will Ferrell is back in his comfort zone with The Other Guys
Return of the big boob
Wahlberg (left) has the doughnutty cop look down pat.
Wahlberg (left) has the doughnutty cop look down pat.

Reeling himself back in from the career crash-zone territory of Land of the Lost, Will Ferrell returns to more familiar stomping grounds with The Other Guys, his fourth comedy pairing with director Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers). Again, Ferrell plays a big boob, although his Det. Allen Gamble in The Other Guys is not as clueless or as extreme a doofus as his characters in these previous movies.

Gamble is an NYPD forensic accountant who loves his desk job. His resentful partner Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) has been reassigned to desk duty following an embarrassing incident that not only wounded his pride but also left him with the stinging soubriquet "the Yankee Clipper."

Rising to the challenge of playing straight man to Ferrell's flights of fancy, Wahlberg also embellishes the character with some choice comic bits of his own. This is not the textbook cop he portrayed in The Departed or We Own the Night. Nor is he playing the comic relief with the drop-dead abs as he did recently in Date Night. Walhberg actually has that puffy, doughnutty cop look down pat here, and when he wails about being a peacock who needs to be let loose to fly, we recognize him as a full-fledged partner in Farrell's zaniness rather than a mere sidekick.

The Other Guys opens strongly and frontloads its best gags into the first third of the film. After that, the jokes begin to repeat themselves and the plot becomes mired in unintelligible details of the white-collar crime that Gamble and Hoitz are investigating.

Lots of stuff crashes and blows up, leaving Michael Keaton, as the precinct captain, plenty to rail about. Also providing solid support are Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson as the station's top cops, who only appear in the film's opening sequences and whose ridiculous glory everyone seeks to emulate, and Ron Riggle and Damon Wayons Jr. as another pair of department go-getters.

Scripted by Ferrell's partners in the website Funny or Die, McKay and Chris Henchey, The Other Guys adopts that site's overall tone of political discontent in its use of corporate criminals as comic punching bags. This film is never more pointed than in its closing credits, which offer a visually snazzy onslaught of statistics about economic disparity in the U.S. between the ultra-wealthy and the average Joes.

The Other Guys isn't likely to be top dog at the stationhouse or the box office, but it'll be serviceable in a pinch.

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