' ' Cinema Romantico: Intermezzo

Monday, March 21, 2022


America’s grand sporting saga, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, commenced over the weekend and though there are four rounds still remaining, the event is for all intents and purposes over. In upsetting mighty blue blood Kentucky in the first round and then vanquishing a comparable Cinderella in Murray State in the second, Saint Peter’s University of Jersey City, New Jersey, enrollment 2,300 (approximately), with an athletic budget so minuscule it could not even afford to bus its cheerleaders to the game and with a home arena gymnasium that heroically eschews a corporate title for, what I can only assume, is a name honoring track 1 off Sheryl Crow’s “Tuesday Night Music Club,” became the most dazzling Tournament spiritual champions in many a March Madness® moon. (National Championship banners are merely accounting for blue bloods.) All this program singularity was only heightened by the fact not one school of the 357 others in Division I shares their moniker: the Peacocks.

Naturally as the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s University gloriously surged into the so-called Sweet 16, many a Twitter user found the gif of Mark Wahlberg as comically hapless Detective Terry Hoitz trying to prove he possesses an individual policing spirit and is not simply one of, as the title of director Adam McKay’s movie suggests, “The Other Guys” (2010) crying out “I’m like a peacock, you gotta let me fly!” It’s a funny moment, surely, one where Wahlberg allows his typical cocksure countenance to metamorphose into insecure desperation, more Dirk Diggler than Brock Landers. Still, when it comes to “The Other Guys,” I have always preferred Michael Keaton as Gene Mauch, Captain to Hoitz and Will Ferrell’s Detective Allen Gamble. At one point we learn Mauch moonlights at Bed, Bath & Beyond, explaining he does it to put his kid through NYU, a comic bit that does more to epitomize the economic anxiety of the era than any of McKay’s broad potshots at our current blinkered society in his more recent “Don’t Look Up.” But don’t get me started. 

The funniest recurring bit in The Other Guys is Mauch’s penchant for speaking in TLC lyrics. Indeed, when he shoos the overstepping Detectives from his office in the manner of fed-up police captains immemorial, he councils, “One more thing, do me a favor; don’t go chasing any waterfalls,” borrowing the chorus of the 1994 mega-hit by the immortal R&B girl group. Later he will reference TLC’s equally classic “No Scrubs,” “Creep,” and “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg,” always claiming when the detectives point out the band’s connection to his words that he doesn’t know what they are referring to.

Like the great actor he is, Keaton never betrays whether the character is on the gag. In fact, when you learn the backstory, that McKay envisioned Mauch driving his son to school and his son playing TLC the whole way, father not knowing who or what he was listening to, just sort of ingesting the lyrics, you realize that’s what Keaton is playing to. Mauch is someone who has assimilated the wisdom of T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli just as someone might soak up the pseudo-wisdom of Tony Robbins. 

I don’t know if an “Other Guys” sequel is in the offing. Probably not given the Ferrell/McKay feud I only just recently learned about. That’s probably for the best; we don’t need another unnecessary sequel. Still, as all this passed through my mind over the weekend in the space of, like, 90 seconds, I dreamt, as I sometimes do, of an imaginary moment in an imaginary Other Guys 2 where at a climactic moment, as a bad guy speeds away, leaving Hoitz and Gamble standing there helpless, Mauch would suddenly roar up in a convertible, with a Kangol driving cap...turned backwards. “C’mon, we gotta go, gotta go,” he’d say as Hoitz and Gamble climb in. “Hat to the back.” “You have to know that’s a TLC lyric,” Gamble would retort. “Guys, seriously, no idea why you keep bringing that up,” Mauch would reply as he peels out. 

No comments: