When the credits are the most intriguing part of the movie, there’s a problem.
In the new film “The Other Guys,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, two mismatched cops try to make a name for themselves by investigating a potential Ponzi scheme run by a corrupt investor. The villain is a pseudo-Bernie Madoff but rather than vilifying a single fraud, director Adam McKay (“Anchorman,” “Step Brothers”) lumped all investors together and attacked Wall Street as a whole.
“The Other Guys” is a funny but not hilarious movie for 1 hour and 47 minutes but instead of simply rolling the credits and letting viewers leave smiling, McKay followed with graphics criticizing Wall Street and corporate executives. It was almost as if Michael Moore filmed the closing credits, as graphics included the anatomy of a Ponzi scheme, the ratio of CEO to employee salaries, a comparison of the New York Police Department’s pension fund to an average CEO’s pension fund, an average worker’s 401(k) account compared to a CEO’s, and the amount of taxes Goldman Sachs paid after the bailout.
While the credits provided the most egregious anti-business attacks, there were other subtle pokes at business and Republicans within the film. For example, the villain, named David Ershon (whose last name rhymes eerily with ‘Enron’), is seen in a photograph with former President George W. Bush and is said to be friends with conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Other chides included Ershon stealing from both the lottery and the NYPD pension fund -- essentially stealing money from the state and a labor union -- and the villains’ drive SUV’s while the heroes drive a Toyota Prius.
The film grossed $35.5 million its opening weekend and has been a hit with film critics in the liberal media. According to rottentomatoes.com, “The Other Guys” has a 77 percent “fresh” rating from critics, with The Washington Post giving it a B and Entertainment Weekly giving it an A-.
Of course, the film reviewers have reveled in the anti-Wall Street message, such as Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman:
“A Wall Street villain (Steve Coogan) who embodies the sins of our time with a relative absence of cheek.”
A.O. Scott, film critic for The New York Times, was disappointed by the “tease” of the end credits and pined for a stronger attack:
“It may be that no team can humble the unrepentant fat cats of the financial sector, but it would be nice to give Mr. Ferrell and Mr. Wahlberg a shot.”
In a way, Scott is correct: the film would have been a fun, goofy movie but the end credits suggested something more. It was almost as if McKay was adamant about attacking Wall Street but wasn’t confident that the film’s plot executed his attack, so he included the graphics at the end to reinforce his message.
Given that McKay is a guest blogger for The Huffington Post and Ferrell’s history of impersonating Bush, another Hollywood film with a liberal agenda shouldn’t be a surprise. As the Business & Media Institute noted, TV characters are 21 times more likely to be killed by a businessman than the mob, and 50 percent of the villains in 2005’s Oscar-nominated movies were businessmen. However, these movies relied on their plots and characters to promote their liberal agendas rather than colorful graphics over the end credits.