Starring: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Andy Garcia
Genre: Comedy/ Action
Ryan (Johnson) and Justin (Wayans) are best friends and flatmates that have just turned 30 whose lives seem to be going nowhere. When attending a college reunion party, which they believe to be fancy dress, they decide to dress up as cops, but it turns out to be a masquerade ball, and conversations with old college friends reconfirms that are pretty much losers. When walking home in their cop outfits, they get constantly mistaken for real cops, getting attention from women and being able to use their ‘power’ to their advantage. Justin enjoys the charade so much that he buys an ex-police car from eBay and learns police jargon and procedure, and despite Justin’s reluctance they continue to pretend to be cops. However, after getting on the wrong side of a local gangster (James D’Arcy) and taking the farce way too far, they find out the hard way about the other side to life as an L.A. cop.
So, Let’s Be Cops is apparently, and I quote, “the ultimate buddy cop movie, except for one thing: they’re not cops”. That is surely genius and comedy gold?
It is not.
As much as that concept may sound potentially fun, Let’s Be Cops is a dull, generic and unimaginative film that signposts all its lazy plot points and gags way before they happen. The plot is painfully predictable, with some truly awful dialogue when things try to get (semi) serious that is beyond cringe inducing to watch, including a horrific voice over at the film’s conclusion. This is a shame as the performances are actually fine; Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. share good on-screen chemistry and play their roles with energy and enthusiasm, but they cannot save what is quite frankly a flat and lazy script. Likewise the usually softly spoken Englishman James D’Arcy is superb as the gangster our protagonists annoy, but he is also wasted. Though the less said about a grey goatee with Andy Garcia attached to it turning up, the better!
A predictable plot is forgivable, as that is the standard in mainstream American comedy these days, and the writers do deserve some credit for avoiding the temptation of turning our heroes into sharp shooting superheroes in a split second in the film’s final third, and they do seem to be genuinely out of their depth. However there is never any true sense of danger, character engagement or most importantly: Laughs!
Luke Greenfield and Nicholas Thomas’ script relies on lazy cliché for the serious bits and most of the humour is just indolent racism, sexism, homophobia or lowest-common-denominator gags. These two characters often act incredibly irresponsibly and break the law, and if the script had some edge or invention then maybe it would be possible to root for characters doing this, but instead it is almost impossible. In one ‘hilarious’ scene they decide to both get their fake guns out in a busy cafe and point them at each other leading to everyone being (unsurprisingly) very scared. There is a difference between edgy humour and cheap, lazy misguided humour. It seems, however, that Luke Greenfield and Nicholas Thomas are completely oblivious to the difference!
The 104 minute running time of Let’s Be Cops feels like an age as it clumsily plods along through its excruciatingly lazy and generic narrative, and everything that happens in its last 10 minutes (no spoilers of course, but it involves a voice-over and what happens to our ‘heroes’ – you don’t need to see the film to figure it out) is quite frankly horrible to watch, but depressingly unsurprising. However, Let’s Be Cops is already making a huge profit, so what the hell do I know? Yes, expect a sequel, potentially involving a different emergency service!
Despite the energetic performances from two leads who share obvious chemistry, they cannot save what is a flat, lazy and deeply misguided screenplay and narrative to make Let’s Be Cops a boring film that rarely even raises a titter. It only gets one mark better than Ride Along simply because it doesn’t star Kevin Hart.