Written by Dania Syed
What to Expect
“You’ve been watching too many movies,” goes a line in Let’s Be Cops. It’s almost as if my heart was speaking to the filmmakers behind this Luke Greenfield comedy, only adding the phrase “and TV shows!” to the former sentence, as 20th Century Fox brings together stars we have all seen on our tellies – oh, and mostly on their own shows (surprise, surprise!) – and assembles a cast for a film.
Co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. of the Fox television sitcom New Girl – whose fourth season is set to air next month – hit the big screen, accompanied by Nina Dobrev (television’s The Vampire Diaries), and Rob Riggle, whom we know as Officer Franklin from The Hangover. One would expect the admirably familiar faces of Johnson and Wayans to give you 104 minutes of Real Fun. But sadly, getting through these 104 minutes is – as the film’s tagline promises – Real Trouble!
What’s it About?
Ryan O’Malley (Johnson) and his roommate and old buddy, Justin Miller (Wayans), are living a life that seems to be going nowhere in LA. Their failings reflect on them even more prominently at a college reunion party, and just as dejection is about to convince them to return to Ohio and reset their lives, presto! The perfectly fitting cop uniforms, which they attended the party in, have drawn female attention and respect, thus boosting their fragile self-esteem and frustrated lives. Ryan, a former college football hero without a career, embraces the authority his attire brings him, leading him to taking the impersonation as (unrealistically) far as he possibly can, much to the on-and-off niggles of the unnerved Justin.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Luke Greenfield is best known for creating and directing the coming-of-age teen comedy The Girl Next Door. The film was a pleasant surprise for both viewers and studios alike, especially following his forgettable directorial debut feature The Animal. The journey has only been rockier from there, and with Greenfield’s last feature, Something Borrowed, completely misfiring despite becoming a cult hit, Let’s Be Cops could have promised some redemption for Greenfield.
Let’s give it credit where it’s due – it makes for a very refreshing and imaginative concept. Johnson and Wayans are talented comedic performers and bring potential promise to the storyline. The excitement of their characters’ larks discovering the power of being a figure of law has some nicely timed comical cues. But that’s about it, really! There is absolutely no bromance-like chemistry between the two characters in this film, and it’s almost as if both the actors are in two different movies!
The films lacks emotional involvement, and the tomfoolery becomes all too repetitive and predictably clichéd. Let’s Be Cops relies a lot on tired bits to engaging the audience, predominantly gawking on scantily clad women. Most of the in-between time feels like a desperate let’s-throw-in-a-bit-of-this-and-a-bit-of-that-and-a-bit-of-that-too gig until suddenly there’s too much to manage!
Greenfield could have made fireworks of a screenplay that he instead likened to a chewing gum stuck on your shoe – the longer you try to stretch it, the thinner and more annoying it becomes!
To Perform or Not to Perform
Jake Johnson is slowly, but surely, laying the foundations of a comfortable and promising career with turns in New Girl and Joe Swanberg’s acclaimed movie Drinking Buddies. His sarky humour and everyman affability almost bring him on par with Emmy Award-winning comedian Bill Murray. However, his character, Ryan, is quintessentially cut out of a stereotypical self-pitying, cocky, and drunk 30-year-old who didn’t get to where everyone thought he would in his life, failing to exploit Johnson’s flair and aptitude.
The same can be said for Damon Wayans Jr, whose ability to seamlessly draw together his placid and comic prowess in sitcom Happy Endings is greatly underused in his straight-man character, Justin, who spends most of his time cleaning up the mess Johnson’s Ryan has made, and, despite being given a few moments to shine, appears relegated to being a support role when he should actually be taking the reins with his wit and charms.
His love interest, Josie, is as one-dimensional and redundant a character as one can get and Nina Dobrev can only do so much to service a superficial, yet likable, character whose main purpose seems to be to fuel the testosterone up a coy Justin so he can redeem himself by rescuing this damsel-in-distress from her knack for attracting some really bad boys who mistreat her.
He’s Just Not That Into You actress Natasha Leggero goes to waste as yet another raunchy druggie in her cameo, as does Due Date’s Keegan-Michael Kay’s cameo further dampen spirits in its desperate bids to provide some laughs.
Luke Greenfield is a capable director, but there is an allure missing yet again from this comedy that falls flat, especially in the second half where the film can’t decide whether or not to take itself seriously! This film is only good for a few odd dumb laughs if you’ve got some hours to kill. But when the most gifted of comedians fail to add dynamism to a simple plot, sometimes you can only know too well that it is a very poor movie. Let’s hope there’s no Real Sequel!
Star Rating: 1 / 5