It was fun when we were all discovering Wahlberg's latent sense of humor, watching him pop up as a supporting character in Huckabees or The Departed with crack comic timing, or even parody himself on SNL as a good-humored response to Andy Samberg's brilliant Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals. But Samberg was onto something in that skit that we all chose to ignore. We laugh with Wahlberg when he's playing off his trademark intensity, but we laugh at him when he doesn't realize he's still being way too intense to be funny. The way he talks to the chicken? That's how he talks to everyone in the scene with him in all of his comedies, and it's been funny this whole time because we never put up with it for longer than a minute-long bit in a scene.
It's not Mark Wahlberg's fault that he isn't as funny as we want him to be. It would be an extraordinary stroke of luck for someone to be a competent musician, actor and comedian at the same time, and he really is pretty funny when kept in the background and given enough good lines to say. But as good as The Other Guys is without him, it really needs to be a sign that Wahlberg's short-lived career as comedic leading man is over. He gave it a shot, it didn't work out, what are you gonna do? He'll do just fine without more opportunities to pour coffee on Will Ferrell for an entire movie. In fact, if he pops up for 5 minutes in the next Ferrell-McKay movie to do just that, it'll be the best of both worlds-- just a little bit of Wahlberg, who knows when to step back and let the comedy professionals take over.
Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.