Richard’s Year of Movies — The Other Guys and Some Like It Hot

There’s a very thin connection between these two films — both feature pairs of buddies taken out of their comfort zones due to the actions of criminals — but the real connection is that I saw both of them over the weekend and didn’t feel like burdening you with two separate entries.  Try finding that kind of deep analysis anywhere else on the web!

We got to see The Other Guys for free as part of a team-building day at work, so I was already sort of predisposed to liking it.  I’m not a big Will Ferrell fan — I think he tends to be very one-note, and plays that note like a kid with ADD on a piano with only one key.  I like him more when he’s the second banana as opposed to the lead; smaller doses, I guess.  And he’s sort of in that role here, although it’s more of a co-lead opposite Mark Wahlberg.  And it just works, in no small part due to Wahlberg’s earnestness throughout the whole thing.  He smartly plays it mostly straight, much like the cast in Airplane!, letting the comedy come from these ridiculous lines being said with all the gravity of a typical cop film.  There’s also a pretty brilliant running gag involving Michael Keaton and TLC whose appearances are expertly timed so as not to overstay their welcome.  I don’t know if I would have liked this as much if I’d paid for it and had the resultant expectations, but when the alternative is sitting in my cubicle for another eight hours, this is a Best Picture candidate.

Now Some Like It Hot, that’s legitimately great.  It still surprises me that this was made in 1959; between the black and white cinematography and the period setting, it’s always felt like an older film to me.  Then along comes Marilyn Monroe and we’re sure as hell not in the 1930s anymore.  It had been a while since I’d seen it, and I was amazed at how much, um, jiggle Monroe gets away with here.  Seriously, if you don’t get her appeal, watch this movie.  Then wonder why stick figures suddenly became trendy.

But the real marvel here is Jack Lemmon.  The guy is just on fire through the whole film, throwing himself into the role with a reckless abandon without which the movie just wouldn’t work.  While later in life it seemed he turned more towards the dramatic (Grumpy Old Men notwithstanding), he was a fantastic comedic actor; his turn as Professor Fate in The Great Race remains one of my favorite film performances ever.

What was really fun was the fact that I was showing this to Hannah and her friend Alex, neither of whom had seen the movie before.  It was my turn to pick a movie for our semi-regular Dinner and Movie nights, and while the temptation was there to spring Full Metal Jacket or Alien on them, I chose the nobler path and went with something a little more in tune with our previous selections (Casablanca and Singin’ in the Rain).  And it just killed them, especially that classic final line.  If somebody doesn’t laugh at that, between Joe E. Brown’s deadpan delivery and Lemmon’s perfect reaction, immediately cut them out of your life.  Let them listen to that kid on the one-key piano.

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