Saturday, July 12, 2014

Let's Be Cops: Movie Review

Funnier pretending to be cops than actually being cops.

After they confuse a masquerade party for a costume party, Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr) realize that fun can be had when dressed up as cops and they decide, Let’s Be Cops. They are two 30-year-old guys who are struggling with their place in life whether they realize it or not (Justin does, Ryan does not) so pretending to be cops is a great way to pass some time. Pretending is the best part and neither the film nor its lead guys know when to stop. 2014

Directed by: Luke Greenfield

Screenplay by: Luke Greenfield, Nicholas Thomas

Starring: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr.

The premise and a number of early scenes are funny. Girls kiss them and people will do whatever they say. But the major issue of the film derives from that. Suspension of disbelief is a big hurdle. It’s one thing to have random passers-by stop when they tell them to, it’s another to have big mafia guys dance in the street, and it’s yet another to have real cops believe them and pull them in on cases.

The film was funny enough when the film was still small time, it became even funnier when Ryan tries to turn this into a job (not being a real cop, but being a fake cop, full time). But I was waiting either for the film to throw away reality or do something clever or original. Going to jail would honestly have been one of the best options half way through the film. Instead this is when Ryan and Justin fool the local LAPD and work with them to bring down a big time mafia boss and his crime ring.

The film never fully let go of reality, and tried to make it about Ryan and Justin’s friendship as they struggle with where they should be in life. That doesn’t work as the main story when they are actually bringing down the most elusive crime boss in LA. The plot just gets so ludicrous; it just doesn’t remain all that funny.

The movie will get compared to Horrible Bosses and 21 Jump Street as well as Superbad and Harold and Kumar. Early on, I got a Harold and Kumar vibe, especially if they had taken a cop car to White Castle, but these jokes weren’t nearly as edgy. The similarities to Horrible Bosses don’t hold up because that movie was able to throw reality out the window, whereas this movie tries but fails to maintain a relatable quarter-life crisis element through all the nonsense illegal malarkey. It does however share the buddy comedy element of 21 Jump Street and even Superbad. Fans of those movies specifically should find the most enjoyment out of Let’s Be Cops.

I am a big fan of Jake Johnson and of Johnson and Wayans’ TV comedy New Girl, and while the duo share a decent comedic chemistry, this doesn’t show what either are really capable of. Except Wayans does have a number of very funny scenes; most notably one where he is undercover as a low-level druggie/crazy criminal and then becomes cranked out on crystal meth. The stand out of the cast is James D’Arcy as one of the top mafia guys. He makes a character who shouldn’t even be in the movie both funny and interesting.

Random funny scenes can only hold Let’s Be Cops together for so long until you can’t suspend disbelief anymore and the plot, characters and comedy go off the rails.

Similar Titles:

Horrible Bosses (2011) - Adding coarse and sexual content to make a plot-rich story funny.