Director: Luke Greenfield
Cast: Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson, Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev, James D'Arcy, Andy Garcia
Release Date: August 13th, 2014
In the past, help director Luke Greenfield has explored comedy from a silly perspective and from a safer angle. In 2004, the director offered up The Girl Next Door, a rebellious but raucous comedy that earned laughs with its silly situations and its wonderful characters. In 2011, he played it safe with the easily-forgettable Something Borrowed.
Thankfully, Let’s Be Cops belongs in the same category of humor as the former picture.
The premise (which can’t be taken seriously) is that two guys in their 30s from Ohio are struggling to thrive in Los Angeles. Ryan (Jake Johnson) is still living off the $11,000 he earned from a genital herpes commercial a few years earlier while Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) is earning a living as an assistant at a video game company. When the duo attend a masquerade party as cops (Ryan believes that masquerade parties and costume parties are the same), they mistakenly realize how much authority they have in the outside world as police officers.
People respect them and for these two struggling men, respect is something they crave.
In the hands of other actors, this feature could’ve easily come apart. The premise is over-the-top but is a tricky one to maintain considering the seriousness of posing as a police officer. There are some repercussions along the way here but few actually compare to the real life trouble this duo would actually face.
The most appealing performance comes from Jake Johnson, a great comedic actor who does wonderful work on The New Girl television program (where he co-stars with Wayans). In that show, Johnson plays a similar character and who also has an absurdist sense of reality. Here, Johnson repeats some of the same character beats but also ventures into more physical comedy, where he’s able to thrive as a person who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Wayans has a few funny moments as the straight man in this comedic pair but Johnson ultimately carries the show.
In many ways, Let’s Be Cops repeats aspects of the formula that 21 Jump Street did so well . Two mismatched officers (here, they aren’t actually cops though). A few silly run-ins with bad guys. An appreciation of sight gags and physical humor. A supporting turn by Rob Riggle, who played a bad guy in the Jump Street films but stars as a good cop here.
Of course, Let’s Be Cops isn’t up to par with that Channing Tatum- Jonah Hill comedy but it offers plenty of its own laughs.
There are times when the comedy relies on gross-out comedy (especially when the officers are asked to arrest a naked man running through a hardware store), offensive humor and generic plot devices. The less said about the gang of thugs the duo face, the better. The plot is secondary here— and shows— but it’s the comedy of the actors involved (and their obvious chemistry with one another) that will keep viewers laughing and appreciating what this feature has to offer.
The duo at the forefront here deserved a better script but what they have here offers them enough material to earn a few great laughs, which was enough to keep me smiling during the feature’s 105 minute running time.
Review by: John Hanlon