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THE GOOD GUYS' end credits: Unexpected Teachable Moment?


Noticed this article tonight -- perhaps McKay's message is more than Rage Against the Machine-skin-deep:

'The Other Guys' is a parody of old-school buddy-cop movies like the 'Lethal Weapon' films, but director/co-writer Adam McKay wanted to give it a realistically grandiose and relevant villain, which is the reason he turned to Wall Street. "All those old movies had drug-smuggling story lines -- if you did that now, it would be quaint," McKay told Entertainment Weekly earlier this summer. "Who gives a s--- about guys selling drugs at this point? Crime has taken on massive proportions: destroying the Gulf of Mexico, stealing $80 billion. Stealing a billion dollars is nothing now -- that's almost adorable."

So McKay approached Picture Mill, the design firm whose creative director, William Lebeda, has done the credit sequences for all of McKay's movies. Lebeda tells Moviefone that he and his team brainstormed half a dozen ideas and brought them to McKay, "and this is the one that really stuck."

"There was not a lot of finger-pointing in the movie. He felt this was his opportunity to point the finger," Lebeda says. "It brought reality to the comedy," adds David Midgen, who produced the sequence.

The figures cited in the sequence, for example, note the following:

- that the TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) bailout cost every person in America enough to take a trip around the world
- that after the bailout, some $1.2 billion in taxpayer money went to pay the bonuses of just 73 AIG execs, while Goldman Sachs got a huge tax break that saw its tax rate drop from 34 percent to 1 percent
- that the average CEO earned about eight times the salary of his average employee a century ago, but earns more than 300 times his average employee's wages now
- that the typical American 401(k) retirement account has lost nearly half its value over the last five years
- that New York cops may earn a maximum pension of about $48,000, while the average retiring CEO reaps benefits of about $83.6 million.

"We knew the issues we wanted to talk about," Lebeda says. "We did a little bit of research. To get specific numbers, we hired a copywriter, Mark Tapio Kines. He found all the numbers through different online sources." The sources were official government documents, adds art director Grant Nellessen. "Sony had to vet everything to confirm we weren't making up facts," he says. "It wasn't just our opinion."

As for the presentation of those dry numbers, Lebeda says, "We wanted to do it in as colorful, fun way as possible, with cool transitions in between." Which was tricky, says Nellessen, because "we had to hope the names [of all the people who worked on the movie] would fit in with all the animation we had put together."

Lebeda says the result has been well-received, judging by the critics' reviews (almost all of which have mentioned the end credits sequence) and the audience response from test screenings. "Our anecdotal evidence is that it's been pretty popular," he says.

Also, perhaps Will Ferrell has made his F.U. money from all the puerile old juvie comedies, and can now afford to say on film what he showed through his GWB show on Broadway: That some things make him mad about politics, and should be changed.

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