Directed by: Luke Greenfield
Starring: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr, Nina Dobrev, Rob Riggle, James D’Arcy
To say that Let’s Be Cops is completely lacking in any form of humour would be an unfair assessment. Despite the almost nonexistence of laughs within the film, I cannot deny that there were a couple of moments in which I found myself giggling. However, a few minor giggles here and there, bolstered by a couple of fun turns from its two leads, doesn’t contribute to making the film a success.
At the centre of the story is aspiring game designer Justin (Wayans Jr) and his slacker ex-jock roommate, Ryan (Johnson). Both 30 and unsuccessful in LA, the two lovable losers (is there any other kind?) attend an alumni costume party dressed as cops. On their way home, the two find themselves mistaken for real cops, garnering a newfound respect from the populace. Naturally, one thing leads to another and the budding cops take the case of mistaken identity to the extreme, using their false identity to their advantage and finding a new lease of life. Initially the film has some fun, with the duo’s banter contrasting Ryan’s gung-ho attitude with Justin’s shy, nervous hesitancy.
Wayans and Johnson, who’ve already proven their comedy chops in the likes of New Girl, have fun with their respective roles, the script giving them plenty of room to riff and play against each other and, on occasion, their chemistry works. However, the plot and characterisation is so wafer thin that it’s clear from the outset where this film is going; life lessons will be learned and friendships will be renewed.
The pair soon find themselves on the wrong end of real life investigation, resulting in a predictable and tonally uneven plot involving corrupt cops and James D’Arcy’s woefully out of place psychotic Russian gangster, Mossi, who seems to have stepped out of a different movie altogether. Nina Dobrev meanwhile is left to merely hang around and be the movie’s eye candy, serving no other purpose but to satisfy the movie’s adolescent male audience.
None of this of course would be an issue if the movie had more laughs than it did, which makes it even more infuriating. The great Keegan-Michael Peele – of Key and Peele fame – is more annoying than funny in his cameo as a wild, dreadlocked low-level gangster, while the constant improvisational riffing between Johnson and Wayans takes a front seat in place of a well constructed and honed screenplay. The end result is yet another comedy with great potential, let down by a predictable and unfunny script that would’ve done better had it remained silent.