December 7, 2010 -- There have been a lot of spoofs of genre films like this, but few of them are funnier than this spoof of the well-worn genre of the cop buddy picture. Another good example of this, British style, is “Hot Fuzz” and there are many other similar spoofs. This is not to be confused with those sub-standard spoof movies such as “Date Movie” or “Scary Movie” or “Meet the Spartans” this is funnier and smarter than those.
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star as detectives Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz, respectively. They are the least respected members of a precinct that boasts the rock stars of the entire New York City police force. Those supercops are P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson). In true supercop fashion they cause millions of dollars of damage to property even when catching crooks guilty of only minor offenses. Spectacular high speed car chases and big gun battles are what they live for. This is what most of the other detectives aspire to as well, except for Allen Gamble, who is content to sit at his desk and do paperwork. Terry Hoitz chafes at desk work. He wants to be like Highsmith and Danson.
Gamble and Hoitz eventually get out of the office and into a huge, complex money laundering case. As they bumble and blunder their way along they are constantly bickering with each other. It is revealed that Gamble has a smoking hot wife (played by Eva Mendes of “Ghost Rider”) and a dark background as a pimp, while Hoitz is divorced from a ballerina and once shot famed baseball player Derek Jeter in a case of mistaken identity. Each of them has more issues than National Geographic. Eventually, despite being taken off the case by their goofy boss (played by Michael Keeton of “Multiplicity”) who also works part-time as a store manager at Bed, Bath and Beyond, they sort of solve the case.
The humor in this film runs the gamut from silly slapstick humor to smart social commentary. It is quite a mixed bag in that regard. Even the credits at the end of the film are smart, detailing the inequities of CEO pay and the government bailout of AIG and large banking firms. One scene in the film has the detectives handing over all their evidence to a Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer who also represents the crooks. Gamble gives him and the rest of government regulators a very backhanded compliment saying they do a great job, except for Enron, Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Bernie Madoff and a list of abject failures that goes on and on, a litany of mostly unpunished white crimes and injustices.
The whole film is about white collar crime and how it is not investigated or prosecuted to the extent that crimes committed by minorities are. In one scene, a police officer addressing students in a classroom gives them advice on how to stay out of jail. The key, he told the students, is to try not to be a black person or hispanic person. That is the key to avoid being hassled by the cops. It is hard to get away with a statement like this, unless it is in an otherwise silly comedy like this. Gamble and Hoitz are repeatedly told to back off the money laundering case by their superiors, who are getting political heat to back down. Similar political heat curtailed federal and state investigations into elaborate mismanagement, crooked accounting, money laundering and Ponzi schemes that eventually wrecked the economy in 2008. This is a very funny film, with a social conscience too. It rates a B.
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