"The Other Guys" is amusing, if you're a fan of Will Ferrell and his drier than dust countenance.

Ferrell, here with curly short hair and wire-rim aviator glasses popular when George H.W. Bush was president, is king of the humor of tedium.

You'll find Ferrell extremely funny or excruciatingly unfunny. The droll tomfoolery is enhanced, or detracted from, by his reteaming in "Other Guys" with writer-director Adam Mckay ("Step Brothers," "Talladega Nights," "Anchorman"). Theirs is the comedy of discomfort, the comedy of squirm, the comedy of desperation.

McKay and Ferrell are from the school of film-making where it's said, "Hey, wouldn't it be funny ... if we do this, or ... if I say that?" Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no.

Recall scenes between John C. Reilly and Ferrell in their parents' TV room in "Step Brothers" and Ferrell and family around the dinner table in "Talladega Nights" and you'll get the gist of the humor in "Other Guys," which usually involves Ferrell riffing off of a topic or personality quirks, oblivious to his own oddness.

Most of the funny stuff in "The Other Guys," a parody of so-called "buddy cop" films, occurs between Ferrell, as Detective Allen Gamble, a New York City police officer happy with desk duty, and his partner, Terry Hoitz, played with stone-faced solemnity by Mark Wahlberg. "Other Guys" is the "Bro-meo" of "Bro-mance" movies.

There is also conversational silliness between Ferrell and his wife, Dr. Sheila Gamble, played with wink-wink, nudge-nudge charm by Eva Mendes.

The other fuel in McKay's comedic tank is when Ferrell explodes with anger seething just below the surface. In "Other Guys," this sometimes involves the Toyota Prius that Ferrell drives. Here, though, the comedy is sometimes run over by unintended acceleration.

"The Other Guys," co-written by McKay and Chris Henchy (Mr. Brooke Shields, who co-wrote Ferrell's summer 2009 misfire, "Land of the Lost"), starts out like a 1970's blaxplotation film ("Shaft") with Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson playing gung-ho New York city police officers in a chase scene that ends in a spectacular crash. Note: the advertising would have you believe Jackson and Johnson are around longer in the movie. They are not.

In supporting roles are Michael Keaton as the precinct police captain and Steve Coogan as a Wall Street scammer.

"The Other Guys" is filmed in the style of television police action shows of decades ago, with lots of facial close ups of the lead actors, harsh lighting and documentary-style crispness.

Another touchstone for "The Other Guys" is "The Naked Gun" movies, starring Leslie Nielsen. Ferrell is no Leslie Nielsen, but he's getting there.

When the pace drags, hip-hop (Black Eyed Peas' "I'm A B"), ironically-used pop (Little River Band's "Reminiscing") and original songs (Eva Mendes and Cee-Lo Green "Pimps Don't Cry" duet) are thrown in.

"The Other Guys" depends on a voice-over, apparently by Jackson, to hold the uneven scripted and somewhat lengthy comedy together.

When you have to explain funny, it usually isn't.

"The Other Guys," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material; Genre: Action, Comedy; Run time: 1 hr., 47 min.; Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "The Other Guys" end credit roll includes a mini PowerPoint presentation on the exploits of Wall Street, CEOs (ratio of the salary of an average CEO to that of the average worker: 319 to one), government bailouts and the like. At the very end is a bonus restaurant scene with Mark Wahlberg telling a joke to Will Ferrell.

Box Office, Aug. 6: Those other guys, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in "The Other Guys," opened with a solid $35.6 million, ending Leonardo DiCaprio's three-week run with "Inception" at No. 1, $18..6 million, $227.7 million, four weeks.

3."Step Up 3D," $15.5 million, opening; 4. "Salt," $11.1 million, $91.9 million, three weeks; 5. "Dinner for Schmucks," $10.5 million, $46.7 million, two weeks; 6. "Despicable Me," $9.4 million, $209.4 million, five weeks; 7. "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," $6.9 million, $26.4 million, two weeks; 8. "Charlie St. Cloud, "$4.7 million, $23.5 million; two weeks; 9. "Toy Story 3," $3 million, $396.3 million, eight weeks; 10. "The Kids Are All Right," $2.6 million, $14 million, five weeks

Unreel, Aug. 13: "Eat Pray Love," Rated PG-13: Julia Roberts stars as Liz Gilbert, on whose memoir this seemingly made-for "Oprah" movie is based, a divorcee who spans the globe, looking for the thrill of victorious inner piece, the agony of extra pounds, and risking it all with ungrammatical title punctuation. Ryan Murphy (TV's "Glee," "Nip-Tuck") directs the drama, which also stars Javier Bardem, Viola Davis and James Franco.

"The Expendables," Rated R: Director Sylvester Stallone brings together movie action heroes, including, in addition to himself, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and the Calie-for-knee-yah Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, for a mission to overthrow a South American dictator.

"Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," Rated PG-13: Michael Cera stars as a musician who falls for the new girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in town, but must defeat her seven ex-boyfriends. Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz," "Shaun of the Dead") directs, based on the graphic novel.

Email Paul Willistein at: pwillistein@tnonline.com [1] and on Facebook.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes