A story about two dopes who don police uniforms to score chicks and enforce dominance has some serious potential for a laugh riot of a movie. Luke Greenfield (director of The Girl Next Door) has wasted it. I’m not even sure why Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. signed on. Maybe it was just because they realized they could bring their on-screen dynamic from the hit show New Girl to the big screen. I hope that isn’t the reason. This is a movie that is borderline terrible.
Johnson plays Ryan, a nobody who used to be a somebody (somebody who rocked at football.) After injuring himself, he moped around for a while receiving attention and doing nothing with his life. Wayans plays Justin, a video game designer who is never taken seriously, even among his coworkers. After Ryan and Justin are invited to a masquerade party (which Ryan mistakenly understands as a “costume party”), the two show up in Justin’s police uniforms that he just happens to have lying around. After leaving the party because of embarrassment, the two discover something. People somehow think they are real cops because they are… well, dressed as cops. Who would’ve guessed? And that’s the movie. They making stupid decisions, try to avoid being caught, and of course they eventually get involved with the wrong people.
I had some hope for this movie not because I thought it looked good from the trailers but because I am a fan of New Girl. Also, I am also a fan of Jake Johnson and no it isn’t just because of the show. I thought he was terrific in Safety Not Guaranteed, the smaller time travel movie that no one seems to have watched. I’s the inclusion of Damon Wayans, Jr. (The Coach from New Girl) that really peaked my interest. The show is great. The show is funny. The show features excellent chemistry from its actors. And it is with a great breath of disappointment that I say Let’s Be Cops isn’t just not funny. It’s close to being god awful.
I say “close” because there are redeeming elements. At times the two leads do feel like they are having fun on screen together. But that is only at times. And I feel strongly that those scenes were mostly improvised. Everything else is scripted… unfortunately. This script is terrible. For a comedy, this is just bad writing. It’s the kind of comedy that isn’t funny at all. That’s no exaggeration. This is the kind of the movie that doesn’t make the audience laugh but rather makes them sit in awkward silence because they know they are supposed to laugh but just can’t bring themselves to do it. It happened in my theater. I couldn’t count how many punch lines were followed by silence so awkward I could almost taste it.
I didn’t laugh once until about a third of the way in. That’s no joke. When the laughs did come, they were just chuckles. The movie has no big laughs, but it thinks it does. There’s a scene in the second act where the two confront a large, naked man in a hardware store. And he is naked. Then the movie goes even farther by having the man’s scrotum rub against Justin’s face. And it really wasn’t as funny as the filmmakers thought it would be.
Starting about a third of the way in, chuckles come and go. But then the movie really falls apart when an Albanian mob steps into the picture. It goes from funny to dramatic to dramatically funny. It’s all over the place. Not even Andy Garcia could save this movie. I wanted to love it, but in all honesty, it really sucks.
Let’s Be Cops (2014) 104 mins Rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence, and drug use Cast: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Jr. Writers: Luke Greenfield, Nicholas Thomas Director: Luke Greenfield