This has been an instructive summer as to the relative talents of comedy stars past and present.
On the low end of the scale, you have Grown Ups with Adam Sandler and his former Saturday Night Live castmates, whose time was 15 years ago. On the upper end, you have Dinner for Schmucks, with Steve Carell, who is hot at this moment.
And in between, you have The Other Guys, starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell - and Ferrell's moment was the beginning of this decade, a lifetime ago in terms of the popularity of movie comics. It's not awful, not great, with enough laughs to keep you watching but too many dud jokes to be satisfying.
Like virtually every film that Ferrell has made with writer-director Adam McKay, The Other Guys is far too long. It's probably better than you expect - but definitely not as good as you wish. The website Ferrell and McKay created is called Funny or Die; I suppose this entry would avoid a death sentence, but just barely.
What works is the bizarre chemistry between the testosterone-prone Wahlberg and the fuzzy, plumpish Ferrell. Wahlberg's anger and Ferrell's mild-mannered obliviousness are usually the ingredients for the film's laughs.
On the other hand, there are too many moments where you can tell that Ferrell is just riffing, while McKay laughs his butt off behind the camera. A real director would have indulged Ferrell's impulses, then deleted them from the finished film, rather than slowing its pace with vacuous moments of unfunny improv.
Ferrell and Wahlberg play partners in the New York Police Department - and they're the laughingstock of their precinct. Wahlberg is Terry, an over-amped detective who mistakenly shot Derek Jeter while working security at a Yankee playoff game. Ferrell is Alan, his opposite: a forensic accountant who lives to do paperwork.
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