Overview: When two best friends dress up as police officers for a party, they discover that the uniforms come with all kinds of incentives. They continue the charade and action ensues. 20th Century Fox. 2014. Rated R. 104 minutes.
The Characters: Jake Johnson plays Ryan, the more daring of the two mock cops. He falls deep into the façade, looking up YouTube videos to perfect his police behavior and insisting on using official lingo. Johnson does well with what he’s given. His delivery is sharp and well timed and though his character’s motivations aren’t ever properly explained, he steps into the role and provides more depth than one would expect.
It is Justin, Daman Wayans Jr’s character, that I have more of an issue with. If Ryan’s intentions are muddled, Justin’s are nonexistent. He bounces all over the place, with seemingly no reason to do anything that he’s doing. One moment, he’s adamantly against pretending to be police officers, citing all of the moral wrongs and the legal issues, the next, he hears that young women are involved in a domestic issue over the police scanner and he’s back in. This would be fine (I guess) if it was at least consistent, but there is absolutely no pattern to Justin’s behavior.
The Story: As far as a storyline goes, Let’s Be Cops simply doesn’t have much of one, and the small traceable bit that it does have is predictable, frustrating and generally unimpressive. The idea that these two unqualified, ridiculous men could get away with the things that they get away with is preposterous. No one is as dumb as the people in this film’s universe.
What Works: The biggest laughs of the film come from Wayans. His character sucks, but this guy is funny no matter what. In what is probably the highlight of the film, Justin accidentally smokes crystal meth. It’s zany and hilarious. Wayans knocks it out of the park. Also worth noting is the chemistry between Johnson and Wayans. They’re naturals together and their interactions, in stretches, are comfortable and enjoyable to watch.
What Really Doesn’t: Unfortunately, even a talent such as Wayans can’t make everything work, and his scenes with Nina Dobrev, who plays Justin’s love interest Josie, have no place in the film. It isn’t Dobrev’s fault. She isn’t given much of a chance and essentially just stands around and looks pretty. The film would have been better without her awkward presence.
Let’s be totally honest: This isn’t a very good movie. It lacks a believable story, the villains are laughable (not in a good way), and the script falls flat far more than it should. Still, I didn’t hate it. Maybe it’s because I went with two of my giggliest friends and their laughs encouraged me, maybe it’s because this film was so ridiculous that I had no choice but to play along, or maybe it was genuinely funny. But for all of it’s flaws, there’s one thing that I can’t deny about “Let’s Be Cops:” It made me laugh. And I walked out of the theater in a good mood.
I’m not sorry to have seen this movie. Johnson and Wayans are good actors. As personalities, they’re funny and easy to root for, even when their characters aren’t very interesting. They deserve a better film in which to showcase their talents, but for now, Let’s Be Cops will have to do.