Let's Be Cops – Review
There’s no two ways around it, Let’s Be Cops is late to the game. Already in 2014, we’ve had the (mostly) successful Kevin Hart vehicle Ride Along – which earned enough to warrant its now-in-production sequel – and meta-sequel 22 Jump Street, which had the rare courtesy of being a sequel that actually lived up to its predecessor. Marketed as yet another of these “boys will be boys” cop comedies, Let’s Be Cops is best thought of as one of those late summer “Burger King” releases that fails on every level to measure up to the higher echelon AAA titles, but still passes a decently enjoyable ninety minutes and satisfies the appetite.
Borrowing liberally from the best-forgotten 2000 Martin Lawrence vehicle Blue Streak; Let’s Be Cops follows down-and-out shmoes Ryan and Justin, played by New Girl co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. That they star together in New Girl is notable, as it unintentionally makes a rather specific statement on the tone and comedic level of the film, but more on that in a moment. Sick of their meandering and unsuccessful lives, the duo adorn themselves with police uniforms to attend a costume party, only to be mistaken on the street for actual cops. However, before you can say “187”, they soon find themselves leading an actual investigation involving mobsters, dirty cops and stolen guns; forcing them to step up and prove their worthiness to wear their (fake) badges.
Let’s Be Cops is at its best when it allows its two leads to simply riff back and forth in what are quite evidently improvised scenes. Johnson and Wayans have abundant chemistry, and the film thrives in their all-too-infrequent bantering moments. Outside of these however, it’s mostly an absolute mess being held together by just enough fleetingly funny moments to distract the audience from realising they’ve probably seen Martin Lawrence in the exact same set-up. And nobody needs to be reminded of the existence of Martin Lawrence. Not nobody. Not ever.
Director Greenfield proves a baffling helmer, on the one hand throwing in some genuine flare and providing incredibly subtle visual references to cop comedies gone by (a third act Bad Boys shot is genuinely chucklesome), yet at the same time overseeing what has to be one of the worst edits of any mainstream movie in years. Shots are all over the place, dialogue is clipped from separate sequences and edited together without even a moment’s break in the audio; and a pretty chucklesome use of Miley Cyrus’s goddawful “Wrecking Ball” loses any and all comedic worth when the sound mix buries it near-totally at the behest of the leads screaming.
Fans of New Girl will no doubt delight in Johnson and Wayans taking their schtick to the big screen; and the comedic wavelength is roughly on par with said series. There are a few minor highlights – Natasha Leggero is always fun to watch, and Rob Riggle brings likeability to a sadly hapless role presumably written for Patrick Warburton – but for the most part Let’s Be Cops merely serves as a disposable, faintly amusing romp that doubles as a reminder that its leads belong on network television.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Jr., Rob Riggle