28th Aug2014

‘Let’s Be Cops’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Nina Dobrev, Andy Garcia, Rob Riggle, James D’Arcy, Keegan-Michael Key, Jonathan Lajoie, Tom Mardirosian, Natasha Leggero | Written by Luke Greenfield, Nicholas Thomas | Directed by Luke Greenfield

Lets-Be-Cops-cast

There are few things as quietly distressing and disappointing to the film fan as seeing people you like and admire feature in movies that are total turd. Such is the case with Let’s Be Cops. I really like Jake Johnson. If you read my Frightfest review of Creep you’ll probably have noticed that I spent about a third of that gushing about Safety Not Guaranteed, the Johnson-starring offbeat dramedy in which he is really good as a louche journalist. He is also really good in New Girl. So good, in fact, that he pretty much carried the show for the first half season it takes to get used to how annoying Zooey Deschanel is in it. Damon Wayans Jr, who starred in the first episode of New Girl, got a different job and returned to the regular cast halfway through the third series and is also pretty funny, stars alongside Johnson in this buddy not-cops flick.

The duo play a pair of losers who mistakenly turn up to a masquerade ball in fancy dress as rozzers. Upon leaving they mooch about a bit and find that they like the respect the uniform bestows upon them from members of the public and the attention it gets them from women. They start wearing them out for fun, Johnson buys a police car from eBay and they generally lark about. Things get less fun when real cops are fooled into thinking they’re legit as well as a particularly nasty local gang.

There’s a certain amount of disbelief you have to be willing to suspend if you’re going to buy into a high concept film’s comic premise. That disbelief is all the easier to do away with if the jokes make you laugh. If they don’t, the ridiculousness of the set up becomes horribly apparent. Let’s Be Cops just isn’t funny enough. Sorry, scratch that, it’s not funny at all. I did about three little sniffy laughs throughout its runtime. As such, I had plenty of time to dwell on how stupid and unbelievable the duo’s behaviour was. The moment these fools ran into an actual violent criminal gang, they would have dropped the cop act immediately. Without a doubt. It’s insulting to the audience’s intelligence to suggest anything otherwise.

And as I say, it was painfully unfunny. Well that’s what I thought anyway. A lot of the people in the audience were laughing their arses off, including the pair next me. They also loudly exclaimed, ‘oh shit!’ any time anything vaguely exciting happened. Which perhaps harshed my vibe a little bit. I felt like literally turning to ask them exactly what was so raucously funny about a man wearing a bad wig and in retrospect I wish I had. I guess they were enjoying it on a level above my own complexity.

The only vaguely positive thing I can say about it is that the occasional action sequence is reasonably well constructed. But that’s it. This has probably been my least favourite film I’ve seen so far this year and I will resent it forever because now I can never completely trust Jake Johnson again. And that hurts. Let’s Be Cops? Let’s not.

Let’s Be Cops is in cinemas across the UK now.

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