Reel Critics: 'The Other Guys' a step above 'Anchorman'

I go to a Will Ferrell movie expecting juvenile humor, zany silliness and not much more. His new cop/buddy movie "The Other Guys" meets those limited expectations in spades. But this time around, there's something more that takes this effort to a slightly higher level that approaches grown-up comedy standards.

This version of a funny but sometimes violent police movie shows traces of "Beverly Hills Cop." Director and screenwriter Adam McKay rises above his former "Anchorman" material to provide a touch of biting satire to the genre. But what really sets this film apart are the totally outrageous sideshows.

Several times, the goofy formula action suddenly stops. A short but wild scene of unexpected madness appears, then vanishes into thin air. There's a surprising intellectual element to these sarcastic interludes. The shock factor takes over and elevates the laugh quotient. Mark Wahlberg plays the disgraced cop who partners with Ferrell's character to set up the strange twists that make all the craziness work. It's better than expected. But you won't miss much if you wait for the video.

String cheese for the soul

"The Concert" is a modern fairytale that mixes the ridiculous with the sublime, and it's easy to see why it was the audience favorite at this year's Seattle Film Festival.

A disgraced Russian maestro (Aleksei Guskov), now reduced to sweeping floors at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, seizes upon a crazy scheme to reassemble his old orchestra and perform in Paris posing as the real Bolshoi.

Part of the fun is seeing if his rag-tag group can even get to Paris without passports, money or instruments. They may be fools, but at their core is a passion for beautiful music that feeds the soul as surely as air and water sustain the body.

Lovely performances all around, and Mélanie Laurent shines as the renowned French violinist with a mysterious connection to the Russian's past.

The rapturous finale, set to Tchaikovsky, is skillfully edited to further the plot, delight our ears and play shamefully on our heartstrings. "The Concert" is as gooey as melted cheese, as subtle as gypsy violins. I loved it.

JOHN DEPKO is a Costa Mesa resident and a senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.

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