"so we dress up as cops. how do we fill the other hour and forty-eight minutes now?"
I have a feeling @LetsBeCops is going to be comedy of the year.
— Sean O'Brien (@SeanNeutron) August 11, 2014
Yes, I did indeed say that a few days ago. And I always man up when I am wrong. Boy, was I wrong. As much as I wanted Let's Be Cops to be the best comedy of 2014, it simply could not live up to my lofty expectations. But maybe it was a lack of actual expectations for director Luke Greenwald and crew that led to such a dismal movie.
Looks funny, right? Unfortunately it suffers from Preview Syndrome. A great two minutes, but a very lackluster one-hundred and nine minutes.
Johnson and Wayans play two guys who live in LA and have seen better times. Johnson's Ryan O'Malley is a former Purdue quarterback who is jobless and makes himself feel better by playing middle-school aged kids in pick-up football. Wayans' Justin Miller is a video game designer who strikes out on his bid for a "Patrolman: LA" game. His boss is an arrogant prick played by Jonathan Lajoie (Taco from The League). While hilarious on the hit FX show- his brief moments don't showcase anything special. Adam Scott would have been ideal for this role in my opinion.
Neither Johnson or Wayans feels satisfied with their current status, and it is only made painfully evident by a college reunion that sees everyone inquire on their lives. (Spoiler alert: they dress up as cops to a masquerade party. LOL OMG amiright?)
Yet afterwards they walk the streets and notice the power of the badge and uniform. Females notice them. Citizens obey them. The scene that follows may be the most uniquely funny one of the entire film.
It's something that could have even worked for a Saturday Night Live sketch, or a sitcom for thirty minutes...just not a full-length movie. Especially one that goes nineteen minutes past the hour and a half formula for most comedies. If it goes that long, it better be damn good.
So what else contributes to the underachieving Let's Be Cops? The casting, for one. While Jake Johnson has natural charisma and the ability to steal scenes, he's no leading man. He is better served as a secondary character. Making Damon Wayans, Jr. the straight man/sidekick does Johnson no favors, either. That might be the biggest flub of the whole thing, too.
You would think Wayans, Jr. would have a good amount of comedic talent based off his bloodline. Maybe he does- but it didn't show here. His abilities were quite limited. Anytime he was the main part of a scene that didn't include Johnson, it seemed to drag on. One scene in particular stands out. Wayans dresses up to infiltrate the evil crime lord Mossi's (played by James D'Arcy) party and has consumed a certain mind-altering drug. A talented funnyman would make that scene something special. Wayans tried to- and failed.
Even his serious tone to Johnson's funny one is grating and almost seems mailed in at times. The only instances where he is remotely funny is when Johnson does something so outlandish that Wayans issues a random "WTF?!" in a high-pitched voice.
Saving graces in the movie include Rob Riggle who plays an actual officer and a serious character for the first time ever, maybe? He plays his role well, but to cast him in that role almost robs the viewer of Riggle's supreme laugh-making abilities. Key and Peele's Keegan-Michael Key is a riot as Pupa, a lowly criminal who ends up befriending the duo of Johnson and Wayans. It made me wonder why he wasn't put in Wayans' role instead, which would have greatly improved the movie. Andy Garcia has an interesting role intertwined with Mossi, yet even this comedy feels like a reach for the Ocean's Eleven alum.
Oh, and Nine Dobrev plays Josie- an incredibly unique and layered female -sorry, let me tone down my sarcasm- who is a super attractive waitress in LA with a terrible taste in men. She becomes interested in Wayans' Miller.
While the initial reaction to the plot is "well that would be kind of funny/interesting", Greenwald and fellow writer Nicholas Thomas lack anything substantially entertaining to make this a memorable movie. Suspension of disbelief must be readily available, as will low expectations for this forgettable film.
5 out of 10
Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know @SeanNeutron