29 August 2014


There is no kind of bad movie worse than a bad comedy. Apparently, good comedy is all in the timing. With everything that's going on in Ferguson as of late, it's hard to imagine a worse time to release a film about abusive dickhead cops than now. If timing were the only thing wrong with Let's Be Cops, then it might have been a misdemeanour. However, it's not at all funny either.

The story starts when 30-year-old roommates Justin and Ryan mistake a masquerade ball for a fancy dress party and decide to go in realistic police uniforms that Justin has been using to pitch a video game at work. Mistaken for real cops, they find that they're getting respect from the public, lots of attention from the ladies and all of the other things to which they feel entitled. They keep the game going by acquiring more police hardware, but predictably wind up in trouble with some serious criminals.

We can only assume that there's one development executive, or one team of execs, at Fox, which has been primarily responsible for all of its rubbish comedies in the last few years. The Watch, The Internship and this year's The Other Woman could have been dismissed as flukes. It's not like anybody sets out to make a bad movie. But with Let's Be Cops, we finally have to draw the line and call this run of misjudged and laboured comedies what it is- a spree.

It's not that they're all bad in different ways either. They're all bad comedies of a certain type, starting with one idea, flogging it to a point beyond the audience's endurance, packing what seems like hours on end into 120 minute products. In this instance, as soon as screenwriters Luke Greenfield and Nicholas Thomas are over their initial idea of dressing up two losers as cops, the rest of the movie is a rote and predictable buddy cop movie, complete with vaguely ethnic mobster villains and a corrupt cop in the mix. It's made that more tenuous by the fact that the two dickheads should have been rumbled the second they came into contact with real police officers, if not sooner, instead of being ingratiated in an investigation.

On top of that, it's miscast. Apparently Nick and Coach, Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr's characters in Fox's sitcom New Girl, are a popular pairing and that must be part of the reason why they've been brought in here. They do have some chemistry, but Johnson doesn't convince as the boundlessly enthusiastic and oblivious man-child role that he's cast in here, and nor does Wayans Jr set a trend apart from the unfunny Wayans dynasty as his wimpy mate. It's especially weird that he gets a few lines that seem ad-libbed into the end of scenes, but the editing cuts them so closely that they're not given any room to land. The timing is similarly off throughout the movie.

Moreover, it reeks of a kit-bashed commercial comedy, like this hypothetical exec/team of execs got Johnson and Wayans from New Girl and then just started casting by flipping through channels. "That Vampire Diaries girl is hot, get her. (flip) Hm, The Godfather Part III, let's get someone who was in serious crime movies. (flip) I'll take Key OR Peele, but not both." The latter of those choices, Keegan-Michael Key, is undoubtedly one of the funniest people in the movie, but he's squandered with a reprehensible setpiece that hinges on Justin looking just like his character, i.e. black.

The most wearying thing about the film is that it's another film in which we watch characters act like dickheads for most of the running time, while it's taken for granted that we're on board and we know they're good people, really. The film doesn't have a single funny joke and it runs most of its non-jokes into the ground before the sweet release of the end credits. As a sidenote, it takes something to have the ickiest representation of women on release in the same week as a film written by Frank Miller, but there isn't a female character who isn't here to be either ogled, threatened or mocked.

Let's Be Cops only has one thing in common with the infinitely superior Jump Street movies and that's Rob Riggle, the only actor to come out of this unscathed. But his atypical casting as a straight-man patrol cop, who works above and beyond the call of duty to take down the mob, is typical of the larger misfire we have to endure. Early on, it holds up a lack of imagination in media as the reason why Justin is unhappy in his job at a game company, but for this film to point out unimaginative ideas anywhere but inwardly is like the pot calling the kettle black. Or more aptly, like calling Key and Wayans Jr "twins".

Let's Be Cops is now showing at cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Let's Be Cops, why not share your comments below? It's cheap and cheerful enough that it's already made twice its money back, so let's not meet back here for "Let's Be Soldiers" or whatever bullshit they make next.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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