The Other Guys (2010)

★ ★ 1/2

Full disclosure: I am not a big Will Ferrell fan. Night at the Roxbury was one of the funniest movies of the 90s, but I find that he tries to hard to fit his persona into every role he plays--like a less funny Adam Sandler. While there were glipses of this in The Other Guys, it actually worked out pretty well for once. Though it wasn't the kind of uproarious comedy it was billed as, it had its moments.

While I'm inserting caveats, I should also ad that I'm not big on Mark Wahlberg. Not that he's a bad actor. He just doesn't tend to pick great roles. Like Ferrell, he actually fit this role well. Wahlberg as a wannabe action hero and Ferrell as an accountant with a seedy past somehow seems appropriate.

On the face of it, the movie is as simple as it gets. A couple of desk jockies trying to bust the bad guys. However, there were some fairly obvious anti-corporate themes lurking in the foreground. After all, bankers ripping off a police pension fund isn't exactly politically neutral. In an odd twist, the movie attempted to explain the financial crisis (incorrectly) by flashing a bunch of graphs and factoids on the screen during the credits. I've never seen a movie get MORE political during the credits. Definitely a movie that's quite in line with the zeitgeist.


The Joneses (2009)

★ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Joneses is a movie about product placement taken to the extreme. It aspires to subtle social commentary, but falls far short. Instead, it is a series of banal scenes, punctuated by blunt attacks on materialism. David Duchovny and Demi Moore have proven that washed up mainstream actors will take any role they can get, and their past fame will always find them an audience. They are every bit as disingenuous as the characters they portray. Gary Cole (better known as Lumberg) is still trading off of his Office Space fame, but with the exact opposite effect of Ron Livingston. I used to laugh any time I've seen him in a minor role, but he's completely exhausted my interest.

This movie could have only been made by a third rate European director, and only at this time in history. How else could we end up with a movie that so thorougly lacks any insight into modern American culture. I can only hope that Derrick Borte's debut is also his finale. From the looks of it, it just might be.