Thursday, August 14, 2014

Film Review: Let's Be Cops

Let's Be Cops is not a bad movie.

But it isn't anything very special either.

The premise is standard boiler-plate comedic stuff.  It centers on lovable losers: Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.).  Ryan is a Vince-Vaughnian lout who misses his glory days of college.  Justin is a shy video game designer who can't even hit on the girl he likes (Nina Dobrev).  The two friends go to a party dressed as cops in authentic uniforms down to the kevlar.  And just when they decide to give up, they start being mistaken as real cops.  The two get caught up in the power trip with funny results and they keep upping the ante until they get in over their heads with real danger.

Johnson and Wayans have fantastic chemistry that translates well from their work together on the TV show New Girl.  Rob Riggle also adds a nice performance as a real cop who befriends the two fake ones.  In addition, Andy Garcia adds a fantastic level of menace and gravitas just at the right time.  Everyone in the movie seems like they are having fun and the film is pleasant enough.

But the movie drags.  Even though it is a crisp 104 minutes, director Luke Greenfield lingers a little too long on the jokes and the scenes that he likes.  During the movie, I found myself wondering how much longer we had left.  That is not a good sign.  And to be sure, some of the moments are very funny, but it feels like he let the actors play around and improvise and Greenfield wanted to keep as much of the fun in.  And the scenes are fine and fairly funny, but it slows down the story with bits and gags that could easily have been skipped.  In comedy, it is sometimes much funnier to hit a joke and move on than to beat it to death.

In the 3rd act, the movie moves from comedy to action/comedy.  In fact, it makes an interesting commentary about the difference between fake violence and real violence.  Greenfield handles this very well and Johnson and Wayans roll with it too.

At the beginning of the story, Ryan and Justin get drunk on cop power and engage in all manner of immoral and illegal behavior.  The movie also uses full frontal male nudity for shock comedy.  But as the story progresses, their lies catch up with them and playing make-believe begins to have serious consequences, which helps the characters to grow.  But not much.

Let's Be Cops is a pleasant enough, sometimes vulgar comedy that has some good laughs, but never really takes off.

2 and 1/2 our of 5 stars

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