20th Century Fox
Mark Wahlberg appeared as a shirtless security specialist in the April comedy Date Night, and now he's playing opposite Will Ferrell in The Other Guys, a cop-movie send-up that opens today. Perhaps it's merely a trick of the calendar, but it seems like the actor is bent on reminding the moviegoing public that he has a sense of humor—something he didn't seem to have (about himself, at least) on his promotional tour for the video-game adaptation Max Payne.
When asked in October 2008 about a Saturday Night Live skit in which Andy Samberg impersonated the star talking to animals, Wahlberg came off as more than a little nonplussed, roundly dismissing the current incarnation of SNL and later suggesting on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, in a manner worthy of his foulmouthed staff-sergeant in The Departed, that he wanted to punch Samberg in the face.
Wahlberg appeared on the next episode of SNL alongside Samberg to do some damage control, but on the heels of Max Payne (and The Lovely Bones, where he was a last-minute replacement for Ryan Gosling) came the only two outright studio comedies on the actor's resume. There is already proof, however, in the Wahlberg back catalog of his ability to amuse. He might not have extraordinary range, but he's capable of more than the slightly nasal, flatly pleading tones in Samberg's impression, which I suspect is what rankled Wahlberg most about the whole talking-to-animals business.
It must be acknowledged up front, though, that the Wahlberg performance that elicits the most laughter is not intentionally funny, though it's not really any fault of his; it's hard to imagine any performer overcoming the inane vagueness ("There seems to be an event happening ...") of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening (2008). Nonetheless, not unlike the 2006 Wicker Man remake starring Nicolas Cage, the increasingly paranoid, increasingly outlandish Happening spellbinds in its own schlocky way.