Director: Luke Greenfield
Cast: Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson, Andy Garcia, Nina Dobrev, James D'Arcy, Keegan Michael Key, Rob Riggle
RunTime: 1 hr 44 mins
Rating: M18 (Some Nudity, Drug Use and Coarse Language)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.letsbecops.com
Opening Day: 22 October 2014
Synopsis: It's the ultimate buddy cop movie except for one thing: they're not cops. When two struggling pals dress as police officers for a costume party, they become neighborhood sensations. But when these newly-minted “heroes” get tangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives, they must put their fake badges on the line.
A title like this pretty much says it all, and indeed this isn’t the kind of movie that leaves much to the imagination. Yes, this farcical take on a buddy-cop comedy has down-on-their-luck roommates Ryan (Jake Johnson), a failed football player, and Justin (Damn Wayans Jr), a video game designer, embrace the empowerment of the uniform after attending what they think is a costume party (the invite said “masquerade”) dressed as cops. To be sure, it doesn’t just stop at the uniform; Ryan purchases an authentic looking police car on e-Bay, such that they aren’t just walking the beat but also cruising on patrol.
Straight off, we can tell you that our law enforcement friends won’t be too happy with just how easy and casual Ryan and Justin impersonate authority, but such political in-correctness is a given if you’re going to sit through this raucous buffoonery. From intervening in a domestic dispute between shrieking women to getting his face shoved in between the legs of a naked 350-pound male thief in a break-in, ‘Let’s Be Cops’ coasts on an endless stream of hijinks leading up to an action-packed climax that stars Andy Garcia as the chief villain – and if you haven’t already guessed that their misadventure will turn them from fake to real cops, then you may find yourself a little more engaged than we were.
As it is, we were hardly impressed when Justin’s get-up scores him the attention of a waitress (Nina Dobrev) he’s been trying to catch, who is in turn also mixed up with a gang of Russian mobsters led by the psychopath Mossi (James D’Arcy) that they eventually go up against. And at this point, we might as well tell you that Garcia plays their criminal overlord in typical over-the-top fashion, his appearance alone probably worth more than his actual performance in the movie. As scripted by helmer Luke Greenfield and Nicholas Thomas, it is pretty much a straight shot from start to end, which in less gentle terms, just speaks of lazy plotting.
But predictability isn’t the movie’s fatal misstep; instead, what truly frustrates is how the duo fail to exploit their already anarchic premise for sharper laughs. Rather than a satire on cop culture from within, what we get are lame bits like kids swearing and recurrent shots of skanky women dancing provocatively in bars, at parties and even on her very own couch in the living room. The gags are tired and the laughs shallow, leaving instead Johnson and Wayans to do the heavy lifting with their improvisational exchanges.
Thankfully, the pair do share a comedic spark, honed no doubt from their work together on the sitcom ‘New Girl’. Their easy rapport helps a lot of the cringe-worthy scenes go down easier, and supporting players like Keegan-Michael Key (of “Key & Peele”) as a dreadlocked Dominican henchman and Rob Riggle (of ‘The Hangover’) as a real police officer help to up the fun quotient. There are gifted performers assembled here, but they are given way too little to work on in a film that is content to simply coast on their likeable down-to-earth appeal than devise its own measure of inspired ingenuity.
Ultimately, this is a film that ends up nowhere. It isn’t bold enough to take advantage of its nihilistic premise, which in itself, risks being ill-conceived by suggesting that the uniform in blue and its concomitant authority be taken lightly. Unless you’re here for Johnson or Wayans, there is little this dull and disposable comedy offers. Yes, you’ll be better off hanging around 21 or 22 Jump Street than this pair of losers.
(As disposable as buddy-cop comedies have become in Hollywood, this role-playing romp with a lazy script and unfunny gags gets along purely by its stars’ likeable appeal)
Review by Gabriel Chong