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Five Life Lessons I Gleaned from The Other Guys

Life is hard. A lot of the time you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. What’s the right thing to do? How do you navigate the ups and downs that come at you day in and day out? If only someone had the answers. If only there were a way to know, not just think, but know exactly what to do in this big circus called life. For that, we look to none other than The Other Guys.

Written by Chris Henchy and Adam McKay and directed by McKay, the movie tells the tale not of the heroes or the superstars. Not even about those middle-tier cops who are really good but maybe don’t get the recognition they deserve. Nah. We’re talking about the background cops. The people you’ve worked with for years and can’t quite remember their names. The little people. The rest of us. The other guys.

Let’s see what life might be like if you lived it according to The Other Guys, because that’s a thing you should definitely do and will have no serious repercussions.

LESSON NUMBER ONE: Go Big or Go Home

The two hero cops, the badasses who always get their perp, are played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. And boy, do they go big.

This is an important life lesson. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And if it’s worth doing right, it’s worth doing big. How big? How about chasing-someone-through-a-busy-downtown-area-and-doing-millions-of-dollars-worth-of-property-damage-for-what-amounts-to-a-misdemeanor-drug-charge big.

How big? How about crashing-a-car-into-a-bus-then-using-the-bus-to-chase-down-the-bad-guys-then-fish-tailing-the-bus-and-crashing-into-a-cab-so-Sam-Jackson-flies-at-you-double-guns blasting-until-the-car-rams-through-the-front-door-of-Trump-Tower-exploding-in-a-beautiful-ball-of-flame.

You know…big.

Ask for that raise you’ve been passed over for time and time again. Dance like no one’s watching. Or, dance like someone is watching and you’re trying to impress them so you hire a flash mob to recreate the video for Rick Astley’sNever Gonna Give You Up” in the middle of Times Square during the New Year’s Eve ball drop.

(Hey, don’t get mad at me if you clicked the link, I told you exactly what it was.)

Just be careful because it’s possible to go too big. Like, jumping-from-the-roof-of-a-twenty-story-building-in-an-attempt-to-“aim-for-the-bushes”-only-to-plummet-to-a-concrete-cracking-death-on-the-busy-New-York-street-below.

On second thought, maybe you should go home and, I don’t know, snuggle up on the couch next to a loved one with a warm pet in your lap and a cup of hot cocoa — you know what? This home thing is starting to sound pretty good actually, maybe just go big half the time and then go home the rest of the time. You deserve it.

LESSON NUMBER TWO: It’s Better to Talk About Your Feelings

This is a good lesson not just from a therapeutic point of view but also from a communication standpoint. In life, it’s always better to state your intentions clearly and to repeat them often.

Our two “heroes,” the other guys, are Detective Allen Gamble played by Will Ferrell from Saturday Night Live and Detective Terry Hoitz played by Mark Wahlberg from Wahlburgers fast food chain. (Side note, did you know there are 49 Wahlburgers locations all across the world and the A&E reality show Wahlburgers ran for TEN SEASONS? See, the Wahlbergs know all about going big.)

Anyway, point is, talking about your feelings is key to a good relationship through proper communication. People often assume too much. They think they know what the other person is thinking and then make decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete information.

For instance, Allen doesn’t have any problem telling Terry when he’s hurt his feelings. Likewise, when some of the other cops in the office call him “Paper Bitch,” Allen speaks right up and says he doesn’t like that name. He’s stating his feelings clearly and often. It’s just unfortunate that nobody seems to care.

Likewise, Terry also has no problem telling Allen how he feels.

See, now everyone knows where they stand.

LESSON NUMBER THREE: Partner Code

There are many codes in life that people like to adhere to. Bro code. Morse code. Da Vinci code. But partner code is where you step up for your partner no matter what. You go out of your way to be there for them. Terry even goes so far as to pick a fight with two of the officers harassing Allen. Terry and a fellow officer roll around on the floor while the other cops gather around, whisper shouting as the quietest fight ever takes place at the funeral for the two cops who jumped off a building because they thought they were bulletproof.

Terry doesn’t stick up for Allen because he has any kind of empathy or respect for Allen, Terry makes that point very clear…and often. He sticks up for him because of the partner code.

The partner code is built on trust. A partner you can trust is a must-have in life. You don’t even have to really like one another that much, though it helps.

LESSON NUMBER FOUR: Women are Objects

Okay, I didn’t say they were all good life lessons. In the movie, women exist to basically be hot and fawn over Will Ferrell (that’s the joke). Take Allen’s wife, Sheila, played by Eva Mendes. Her sole purpose is to be madly in love with Ferrell’s Allen while he berates her and calls her disgusting and says she’s dressed “like a hobo.”

This happens over and over again. Even the “hot” female villain who has no lines and no name eye-bangs Allen.

Then, there’s the long walk we have to go on in order to get to one of Allen’s ex-girlfriends, played by Natalie Zea

See, after Allen and Terry’s car is hijacked, one of the hijackers accidentally butt-dials Allen’s ex, Christinith. (Yes, that’s her name.) They’re hoping to just happen to be able to hear if the bad guys conveniently talk about their evil plan while the butt-dial is being recorded on Christinith’s voicemail.

I know, it’s a hike.

All of that just for Christinith to throw herself at Allen while her husband begs him to make love to her. (Whether or not he watches from the corner isn’t discussed, but it certainly seems like an option.) It’s just all around weird. On second thought, maybe don’t take this advice.

(P.S. In case you were wondering, they do happen to hear a very important piece of information about the bad guy’s plan when they finally escape his ex’s clutches and listen to the voicemail. Lucky them.)

LESSON NUMBER FIVE: Capitalism Bad

In what feels like a practice run for The Big Short, the real plot of the story involves currency reserves and billionaires manipulating markets and the securities division of the SEC and honestly, I have no idea what it’s about. All you really need to know is what starts out as a “nerdy” permit issue, turns into a multi-billion dollar scam that is uncovered through good old-fashioned police work and not a chase sequence out of Bad Boys II.

And that’s the real lesson here. Our guys, the other guys, walk away victorious. Why? Because they went big, they talked about their feelings, they had each other’s backs, they objectified women, and they brought down big capitalism.

Not bad for a day’s work.

(The script for The Other Guys can be found here. It’s quite different from the final product and is interesting to those curious about seeing how a movie might change from script to screen.)

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Written By

Seth Boston is an LA-based writer hailing from a small town in midwest Arkansas you've never heard of. He's worked in various positions on numerous TV shows including Eleventh Hour, The Forgotten, and The Mentalist. His prolific writing earned him the work for which he's best known, as a writer and producer on the Emmy-winning series Gotham for Fox.

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