Two struggling pals dress as police officers for a costume party and 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.
Year 3, Film #15
THE GOOD: If the amount of laughter that escaped me is any indication of how good this film is, Let’s Be Cops rates pretty high. There were some truly hilarious, and horrifically gross (funny gross), moments that had the entire audience laughing hysterically. And another good sign for the film is that the good jokes weren’t wasted in the trailer; there were plenty more filling the film from beginning to end for sustained comedy.
Going into the film I was expecting it to be stupid humor and sure enough, that’s what I received. There was a couple minute warmup period to acquire the taste, but once the film really got rolling, it was just like watching any other comedy. Sure there was a fair share of negative aspects to the film which I’ll get into in a second, but most of the time you’re too busy laughing to pay any attention to the bad parts. Even for the negatives that are ingrained into the story and are inescapable — like the fact that the situation they’re placed in is totally improbable — they feel secondary to the film because the comedy trumps it. And while I’m sure not everyone is a fan of this stupid humor that mostly consists of acting immature, sex jokes, drugs, and racial stereotypes (it can be a bit much at times, the store robbery with the naked criminal is a prime example), I do think that everyone can find something to laugh about in Let’s Be Cops.
One area that I keep going back and forth over is a key ingredient to the film and it’s humor: the two main characters Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans, Jr.). Their chemistry and friendship together drives much of the film although they are aided later on by Officer Segars (Rob Riggle) and Pupa (Keegan-Michael Key). The good part of this chemistry is that at many time it doesn’t feel like they’re acting. It just feels like all improv and they’re making most of it up as they go along with the side benefit of actual structure from a script that is often looked over when improv takes over. Let’s Be Cops has the best of both worlds in that sense of a regular scripted film that feels spontaneous.
THE BAD: The downside to the chemistry between Ryan and Justin is that it feels exactly like Johnson and Wayans’ characters on the TV show New Girl. While that doesn’t have to necessarily be bad it nonetheless is the wrong fit for this film. Ryan is the character who doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life, loves to put himself in ridiculous situations, and is pretty much the exemplar of a frat-bro (just like Nick on New Girl). Justin is the shy guy who has a job, but isn’t really happy with it and never wants to try anything new (a little different than Coach on New Girl, but still very similar). This dynamic between them works on the TV show but fails in Let’s Be Cops because the whole premise of impersonating cops requires a full-on commitment from all parties involved. Justin always wimps out, never wants to do any of the cop activities, and after confirming impersonating cops is indeed illegal five minutes after they start, he begs Ryan to stop.
Now having this scared character breeding doubt is funny for a while and it’s even funnier when Ryan inevitably forces him to do the stupid and funny stuff against his will. But by a half-hour into the film, it gets boring, repetitive, and annoying. Justin is supposed to be funny and make us laugh, not make us roll our eyes after he backs out of something scary for the millionth time (surprise, surprise). A little bit of this at the beginning is fine, and actually welcome, because it’s what helps us get past the suspension of disbelief at this ridiculous premise. But once we get past that, not wanting to participate in the hijinks and the shenanigans becomes irritating and actually stops laughs and replaces that with frustration.
THE TAKEAWAY: Despite the annoyance that the chemistry between main characters Ryan and Justin can bring, their friendship also helps bring a health dose of laughs. The premise is ridiculous and stupid and the story (about some gang trafficking weapons, money, and other contraband using local businesses to help conceal it) might even top a Transformers film in terms of absurdity, but it does deliver in terms of laughs. In fact, Let’s Be Cops is probably my second favorite comedy this summer (behind Cuban Fury and in front of 22 Jump Street and A Million Ways to Die in the West, just squeaking ahead of 22 Jump Street). Granted, stupid humor might not be for everyone, but if you enjoy the trailer, you’ll really enjoy the entire film.
Let’s Be Cops opens in theaters tomorrow, Wednesday August 13, 2014.
THE RATING: 4 out of 5