Along with regular muse Will Ferrell, writer/director Adam McKay has tackled '70s network news, Nascar and sibling rivalries. Pairing Ferrell with Mark Wahlberg, "The Other Guys" takes aim at one of the most tried and true traditions of American film history, the buddy cop flick.
Ferrell is the by-the-book, safety-first Allen Gamble, happier sitting at a desk typing the reports of tougher cops rather than risking his own neck. His partner, Terry Holtz (Walhberg), hates him. A shamed former star cop on the rise, Holtz thrives on the action. He's determined to get his stick-in-the-mud partner out from behind the desk as fast as humanly possible.
"Adam and I had talked about for years the idea of working with Mark in a comedy," says Ferrell. "We found him to not only be a good actor, but funny at times in some of the roles that he's done. We all sat down, had dinner and asked if he'd ever wanna do a movie with us. We talked about doing the 'other guys' on a force that no one cares about [who] kind of have their chance to step forward and prove that they can actually do something."
"I didn't even want to read the script," admits Wahlberg. "They said would you be interested in doing a movie? I said yeah and they asked, 'Do you wanna hear the idea first?' I've literally always wanted to do a comedy and to get an opportunity to work with these guys was just a dream come true."
Aside from some car racing in "Talladega Nights", McKay and Ferrell were relatively new to action. In contrast, blowing up stuff is old hat this point for Wahlberg. "We'd be shooting a large action sequence and Will and I would be like, 'Wow, look at this, we're breaking a window,'" says McKay. "And Mark would come over almost yawning and say, 'Yeah, we did this one time except I was being shot out of a cannon and I was on fire.' Mark let us have our fun."
"I certainly felt very comfortable when it came to anything cop-ish or action," admits Wahlberg, "but with all the other stuff I basically just wanted to follow their lead. I basically just did whatever they told me."
"Keep in mind, I had to do things too," says Ferrell. "I had to run. I had to duck."
One might think that making a buddy movie about male camaraderie might lead to a similar atmosphere on set, Ferrell tells of his unique approach. "I feel it's more important to be really cutthroat on a set and not look out for one another," jokes the actor with his famous deadpan. "That provides a certain tension. It makes for a horrible work environment, but boy does it pop on screen."
While "The Other Guys" is careful never to take itself too seriously, the pseudo-villain of the film, Steve Coogan, is involved in a particularly relevant white collar crime known as the Ponzi Scheme. "We talked about this idea because the cop buddy genre is almost dead in a weird way," McKay tells press. "The reason you could do this is that the perception of crime has changed. So the fact is that Bernie Madoff just stole ninety billion dollars and that these banks basically stole a trillion dollars. All the sudden, drug smuggling and those things kind of got quaint. So we thought it was a great idea to involve that."
Generally, credits of comedy movies become fodder for outtakes or the occasional return to an in-joke, but McKay took the opportunity to add some further and statistically fascinating commentary. "We finished the movie and then looked at it and we sort of hit on some of these financial things," says McKay. "It's not a right wing, left wing issue. It's just kinda what's going on. I thought is there a fun way to sort of say, 'Hey, you just laughed but by the way this is ridiculously awful,' and at the same time still have it be fun. So, Picture Mill did our credits, I said could you show us some statistics, because they are all striking and so outrageous, but do it in almost a Pink Panther animated kind of way and they came up with that idea. I love the way they pulled it off. I think it's a perfect kind of balance."
But even with the serious side notes, Ferrell and co. want to make it clear that they still have a good time on set. "There was a trailer called the party trailer," says Ferrell. "It was, I think," towed away after the second day of filming. There was a lot of crazy stuff going in there. There was human trafficking, a crystal meth lab... Yeah, it was not good."
"The Other Guys" hits theaters nationwide August 6th, 2010.