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Let’s Be Cops (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

08/21/14
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Police uniforms turn a pair of floundering goofuses into the respected men they long to be in Let’s Be Cops, a very stupid comedy.
 
And I mean that as a compliment! Sort of! This flimsy premise which quickly left-turns into crazyland only works, to the degree that it works, because it is so completely committed to its own stupid.
 
Ryan (Jake Johnson) is a barely working actor who has found nothing in adult life to reach the glory of his days as a college football player. Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) works for a video game designer and has his own elaborate game — “L.A. Patrolman” — he’s eager to pitch. But his twitchy boss (Jonathan Lajoie,
 
The League’s Taco) and his own lack of confidence lead to his game’s getting a pass without him even really explaining it. Dejected, roommates Ryan and Justin head to what they think is a costume party together. Their choice of costumes: ghosts or cops. Let’s be cops, they decide.
 
The party goes about how the rest of the downer day has been going for them — it’s a fancy masquerade, not a costume party, and full of college friends who seem to be doing much better in life — so Justin and Ryan leave and head to their regular diner. Along the way, they realize that the crowds they’re walking through think that they are, in fact, cops. From the guys smoking a joint to the girls on a bachelorette party scavenger hunt that includes “kissing a cop,” passersby treat Ryan and Justin like police officers so they decide to go with it, even when Josie (Nina Dobrev), a girl Justin has had a crush on for a while, makes the same mistaken assumption. Drunk on the feeling of being respected, Ryan and Justin don the police uniforms the next day too, eventually running afoul of Mossi (James D’Arcy), a local mobster.
 
While Justin goes along with Ryan’s crazy plan somewhat hesitantly, and mostly because it seems to be helping him with Josie, Ryan goes off the deep end with it, studying YouTube videos to learn police lingo and techniques and even buying a patrol car and decking it out to look like the real thing. Justin is terrified that this increasingly elaborate fraud is going to lead to time in federal prison, but Ryan is convinced that he’s found his true calling in life. 
 
Once, I made a Roy Choi recipe for something called “Ketchup Fried Rice.” The dish had a slightly sinister quality, like even if it didn’t kill me right then it was probably shortening my life expectancy by about 10 days per bite-full. It was also completely delicious and I scarfed it down and then hid the leftovers in the refrigerator so that nobody else could get to it before lunch the next day. That sort of describes Let’s Be Cops — maybe that with a small dollop of shame on top because this movie is so deeply, deeply stupid. Dig beneath the outer stupid and you find an even more concentrated stupid at the core. 
 
And yet, stupid as it is, free of coherent thought and social commentary as it is, this movie made me laugh. It would probably be better viewed as a series of shorts, released via a Funny Or Die-like site, with just the dumbest, least-reality-tethered parts cut free from the demands of a plot. But even when they were
strung together with a bunch of zany-plot nonsense, I still found myself enjoying these goofier bits.
 
That I got any enjoyment is due in large part to Johnson and Wayans and the chemistry they have together — a chemistry that is similar to their chemistry on New Girl (or at least the episodes I saw of them together before I gave up on the series sometime this past season). Johnson has really honed this sort of character — the lost 30something who is verging on crazy-old-grump and has a tendency to peripheral weirdness, perhaps as a way to avoid thinking about the big problems in his life. Wayans meanwhile is (as he was in Happy Endings) sort of a straight man to the more exaggerated wackiness of those around him but with his own moments of quirkiness. I liked watching the two of them together. 
 
Let’s Be Cops isn’t good or smart or even as self-conscious as, say, the 21 Jump Street movies. It’s brainless and probably bad for my brain as well, but I nonetheless found myself more entertained than not.  C+
 
Rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use. Directed by Luke Greenfield and written by Luke Greenfield and Nicholas Thomas,  Let’s Be Cops is an hour and 44 minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Fox. 
 





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