Let’s face it, the Jump Street films really have blown the doors off of the Buddy Cop genre. Really, where can we really go after Schmitt and Jenko proved that these types of characters go on the exact same adventure every single time? Well, here comes Let’s Be Cops, a film that thinks it has the answer, and with a fairly unique premise, and seemingly funny leads, I was completely willing to accept another dynamic duo into my niche, especially since the whole ‘Ride Along’ thing didn’t really do much for me.
Let’s Be Cops centers on Ryan (Jake Johnson), a former college football player who is unemployed due to an injury, and his roommate Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.), a spineless video game designer who is having trouble pitching his new cop themed game to his jackass peers. One night, the two mistakenly wear the cop outfits Justin was going to use in his pitch to a college reunion/masquerade party, and the look gets some attention. As they walk the streets, they realize that people actually believe that they are police officers, and this just tickles the attention hungry Ryan. He buys a used squad car on Ebay (ok…fine movie…fine) and coaxes the reluctant Justin into keeping up the charade as they pretend to protect and serve.
Really all that matters with a silly movie like this is whether or not it is funny, and here, I would say that it definitely hits more than it misses, even if that amounts to just slightly over half the time. The scenes that pull the biggest laughs are definitely the broad set-pieces, which for someone who normally prefers character based humor comes as a bit of a surprise. While there are moments of great dialogue, it’s not the focus here. They really milk this goofy premise for all it’s worth. There are some moments here that are just so completely absurd that you can’t help but giggle, particularly in one scene where a certain perp utterly personifies Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball.
Our two leads are definitely solid, but not spectacular. The film really relies on their chemistry, and while these guys have clearly spent a lot of time together filming New Girl, the dynamic between the two isn’t as refined as you would expect. The film seems to be telling us that they work really well together, as opposed to them just naturally doing it. They are actually much funnier individually, Johnson shining in his moments of unabashed sarcasm, and Wayans in the more physical moments. Even so, it certainly isn’t dead air between them, and the dynamic certainly settles in as the movie goes on.
What comes as a surprise here, is how enjoyable the inevitable second half turn is. Eventually, these two find themselves having to do actual police work, and to my utter shock, it’s actually a pretty involving little crime story all things considered. What makes it work is how genuine it feels. The villains, portrayed by Andy Garcia and James D’Arcy are actually pretty threatening, and Rob Riggle does a great job as a beat cop who just wants to do the right thing, and ends up looking up to these two morons by pure luck and happenstance. Ryan and Justin’s friendship is a lot more heavily felt in this segment as well, as the two really start to have some friction in the face of mortal danger. It’s nothing that will have you on the edge of your seat or anything, but it’s certainly more involving than expecting.
The only major problem I have here is that in order for the premise to work, the movie has to take place in Idiot-land. There’s no way these two goofballs would actually pass off as cops, and nowhere in the film do civilians, or the actual cops themselves ever even suspect that they might be fake. In fact, when Justin outright confesses to a police receptionist, she thinks it’s a joke! If you can suspend your disbelief, it’s not a huge deal, but it definitely irked me a little bit.
Overall, this is far from the smartest, or the funniest comedy you will see this year. However, as a silly little flick with a simple premise, it’s decent entertainment. It’s one of those movies that will pop up ten thousand times on Cinemax at three in the morning, and every so often, you’ll sit your delirious ass down and enjoy it on your way to sleep.