Your Funny Weekend at the Movies, Finally?

08/06/2010 1:02 PM |

Oh whoops sorry this is the other funny cop duo movie.
  • Oh whoops sorry this is the other funny cop duo movie.

The Other Guys: It has not been a banner summer for big comedies. The last time Will Ferrell and Adam McKay made a movie together, it was summer 2008, and Step Brothers came out alongside fellow well-directed smart-dumb comedies Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, and even, to a degree, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. I quite enjoyed this summer’s Apatow production Get Him to the Greek despite some directorial clunkiness, but since then, yikes. Adam Sandler went back into position for the laziest of lazy exercises and has scored of his biggest hits ever. Ben Stiller retreated into Fockers sequelizing, pushed out of summer and into the poor, unsuspecting holidays. And I’m a little late on this, but what the hell happened with Dinner for Schmucks? I’m no huge fan of Meet the Parents, but I figured if there’s something Jay Roach can do, it’s executing broad high-concept comedies with a minimum of fuss. On the surface, I guess it could look like he did that with Schmucks, which accounts for some of the passes it got, but look even a little bit closer and you’ll see a movie that’s been fussed with to the point of incoherence. Instead of having Paul Rudd play either a smarmy wiseass or a beleaguered nice guy, they have him play some kind of unholy cross between the two, without the funny parts of either, so his character as written is a beleaguered smarmy guy? Even from a financial perspective, I don’t get it; doesn’t Vince Vaughn have a terrible hit movie every year based on his fast-talking asshole persona? I’d think such a character would make more sense to bounce off of Steve Carell’s vacillating degrees of idiocy—itself surprisingly nonsensical given Carell’s gifts for grounding assorted idiots and dorks in believable territory. What an astonishingly misconceived, over-yet-under-thought movie.

Anyway, the point is, it’s all up to you, The Other Guys. Ferrell, for all of his supposed missteps, seems less susceptible to studio-comedy crash-landings than his peers; I can’t think of a Ferrell movie—not the soccer coach one, not the Bewitched redo, and certainly not Land of the Lost though it is weird that he’s done several TV remakes like that—that can compete with the worst of peers Stiller, Sandler, or even the greener Carell. What’s more, Ferrell’s work with McKay has been, to my mind, one long streak of awesomeness, including the wonderful, insane, and somewhat misunderstood Step Brothers, both a stinging critique of the Apatow latecoming-of-age narrative and a subversive exercise in occasional surrealism. The Other Guys seems a bit more like Talladega Nights, the most narratively inclined of the Ferrell/McKay pieces thus far, and like that movie it looks to bring a gratifying number of new faces into the Frat Pack circle. Talladega essentially introduced Jack McBrayer to audiences outside the NYC improv scene, gave us a pre-Borat Sacha Baron Cohen, and reinvented John C. Reilly as a comic lead. Other Guys corrals Michael Keaton, Sam Jackson, and Eva Mendes into what will almost certainly be the funniest live-action movie of their past ten years or so. If I sound bullish on this movie, well, I can’t imagine a Ferrell/McKay collaboration that doesn’t make me laugh, and I could use some of that.

Step Up 3-D: Going forward, possibly until James Cameron makes another movie, I’m mainly interested in 3-D as a full-throttle gimmick. So: Harry Potter, Disney cartoons, Marvel movies in 3-D? Whatever, I’d rather see them flat. But: Resident Evil, Piranha, Step Up movies in 3-D? Sure. Another way the Step Up movies are like Resident Evil? I liked the second one a lot more than the first one. So just think: this could be the Resident Evil: Extinction of urban dance movies!

Middle Men: Pretty much everyone loves to make movies about seedy industries that go through a glamorous boom and a mangy bust, so it was only a matter of time before internet porn got that treatment. This kind of subject matter has inherent interest, plus lots of potential for stylish Scorsese-aping, but it doesn’t sound as if director George Gallo has scaled Goodfellas/Casino/Boogie Nights heights here. Maybe Blow, though? Anyway, this is the kind of movie that might be interesting even if it’s not much good, though I suppose that makes it more of a candidate for Your Weekend on Cable a Year or Two From Now.