The initial premise of the new Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg movie is that when the real action hero cops (played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) fall flat, then the New York Police Unit will have to turn to "The Other Guys" to fight crime. The film is well cast to take advantage of the comedic opportunities of this premise. It is also well written to provide a deeper meaning for those who look for such things.
When our B-Team heroes get pulled off their corporate crime case for the third time, they get orders to turn over their evidence to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Will Farrell expresses his respect to the SEC investigator for all the corporate crooks his agency has caught, "except for Enron, Bernie Maddoff, Worldcom, . . .." The Other Guys takes on a whole new meaning. We idolize the cops who go after street criminals who smoke marijuana or steal, but when it comes to policing our economy to prevent a few from getting very rich by cheating, our government assigns "the other guys." I am reminded of all the times I had to tell victims of wage theft that there are no cops who will arrest their thieving bosses the way there are cops to book shoplifters. There is an irony about how we judge which crimes are serious enough to deserve our A-Team.
The final credits are worth sitting for those few extra minutes they take. Our filmmakers provide a few factoids about the role of corporate crime in our current economic downturn, about the disproportionate compensation of executives at the top of the corporate ladder, and about who got the biggest checks from those first government bail-outs. These fact drive home another metaphor for "The Other Guys." Our society has produced a few super-rich, and then there are "the other guys" -- us. In this light, a few of the throw-away jokes earlier in the movie take on new meaning. "To do well in school," Rob Riggle's and Damon Wayans, Jr.'s characters tell one class, "do your best not to be Black or Hispanic." It will be a good day when schools are funded sufficiently so this joke has no basis in fact. Oh, there is an outtake at the end of the credits, and I could see why it was taken out.
The final credits reveal that director Adam McKay had a cameo as "Dirty Mike." I also enjoyed seeing the union label and the seal of approval from the American Humane Society, so I could feel good about how all the people and animals were treated in making the film. If parents are trying to protect young children from anything that might be inappropriate, though, this is not a film for them. This is a good film for people who liked Trading Places or Blazing Sadles.
Let me suggest that anyone sensitive to extreme humor should go to the bathroom before seeing The Other Guys. As we were walking out of the theater, I was still laughing so hard that I had to sit down to recover before I could make it to the bathroom.