Let’s Be Cops (**)
Running time: 104 minutes
Director: Luke Greenfield
Starring- Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev and James D’Arcy
(Movie House Dublin Road Preview Screening 27/09/2014)
New Girl co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr attempt to channel their small screen chemistry into a feature length buddy cop slacker comedy, directed by Luke Greenfield, which unfortunately fails to deliver on laughs or originality.
As a pair of thirty year old underachievers, failing video game designer Justin (Wayans Jr.) and his obnoxious lay about flat mate Ryan (Johnson) are on low ebb having come to terms with the fact that they’re wasting their lives. After an embarrassing mix-up at a masquerade party, where the two dress up as LA cops, they quickly realize that their fake uniforms are actually rather convincing, earning them respect, adoration and female affection in the process.
Drunk on ill-gotten power, the two go on to purchase a second-hand police car, win reverence from actual police officers and even run afoul the Russian mob. Putting their fake badges on the line, they become embroiled in an investigation that sees them fall out of their depth in order to bring justice to the streets of Los Angeles. It’s unfortunate however that the gag pretty much runs its course about twenty minutes into the film.
Many of the film’s jokes are crammed into a couple of early montages, leaving the rest of the film hanging out to dry. The pair promote themselves to detective and take on hot-headed two-dimensional crime boss, portrayed by an unrecognizable James D’Arcy, but the from then on in, the premise is exhausted and the plot relies typically on worn-out drug references, sexual humour or gross-out comedy to plug the gaps and pad out the rest of the script. It’s the type of film where zany title and taglines are given priority, with script and dialogue all an afterthought during the creative process.
Supporting appearances from a normally reliable cast, such as Rob Riggle’s duped police officer or Keegan-Michael Key’s hard man-turned-informant don’t deliver either, with the former being oddly more strait-laced than usual, while the latter raises a few laughs but ultimately feels underused. Andy Garcia brings a touch of gruffness and tension to the plot, but any chance of edginess or danger is brushed aside in favour of unoriginal slapstick ridiculousness and childish name calling.
While the two leads have natural rapport, the set-up dynamic of slacker cops is one that jumped the shark a long time ago. Ultimately, the whole affair feels like a second-rate imitation of funnier, more successful 21 Jump Street films of recent years. Messrs. Wayans and Johnson pale in comparison to other comedy cop duos such as Hill and Tatum, Rogan and Hader (Superbad), or even Pegg and Frost (Hot Fuzz).
There are a few silly laughs here and there, but overall the humour is anything but arresting in the case of Let’s Be Cops. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the gag loses its appeal after the twenty minute mark. It has all the makings of a sitcom storyline that perhaps should have remained on the cutting room floor.
Review by Leigh Forgie