Friday, 7 November 2014

Let's Be Cops (2014) - Movie Review

The trailer for this movie made it look absolutely awful; the premise at face value is one of the worst for any film this year, if not the last few years; the comedy bits we got were limp and just not funny; and when the best part of the whole thing is a Method Man song being played over it, you’re not doing a good job at selling your movie. But I have written before about my expectations with movies and how they aren’t always on par, so really this could go either way.

The plot: Two roommates, Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.), dress up as cops for a high school reunion. They soon discover, after a walk on the town, that people mistake them for real cops. Liking the attention they’re getting, they continue the charade, complete with fake police car, and get tangled up with real criminals.

We’re dealing with buddy cop movie here, and this is where most of the good points are brought up with other critics: The chemistry between Johnson and Wayans. Admittedly, they do work well together (Certainly better than Kevin Hart and Ice Cube), but the material they’re given isn’t great most of the time. This feels more like a collection of skits in terms of the jokes, and I’ll definitely say that Wayans comes out the better of the two. True, more than a few of his jokes are about him being black, because God knows that those jokes never get old, but overall he gets the better material. His best scenes are when he has to go undercover to find out the main antagonist’s plan, showing off one of the funnier portrayals of a guy off his tits on drugs that I’ve seen (Still no DiCaprio), and when he pitches his idea for a video game to his company, which almost makes this movie feel like it’s trying to say something of significance about the difference between the public perception of police work (i.e. from video games, movies, etc.) versus the reality. Of course, the latter is hurt by not only the fact that it is somewhat out of place with the rest of this movie, not to mention the fact that the game company seriously just poo-poos a game about being a policeman (L.A. Noire ring any bells?), but these scenes still work regardless.

I will give this film credit in that it isn’t nearly as stupid with its premise as its trailer made it look: We see scenes of Ryan getting properly into his role as a fake police officer, looking up protocols and self-defense techniques that cops use (From YouTube of all places, but it shows he’s at least trying), and Justin looking into the laws involved because, you know, imitating an officer of the law is all kinds of illegal, not to mention the other shit they get up to and get hold of. I was expecting to completely hate these two, but they actually came off rather well: Ryan is a bit of an asshole, and a failure to boot, but you can at least understand why he would want to be a policeman for more than just the possibility of hooking up with sorority sisters (Yeah, that scene from the trailer still looks bad in context, I’ll admit that); and Justin is a good straight man to play off of him, being a lot more self-aware of just how ridiculous this entire situation is, but also allows Ryan to be the enabler and convince him to join in against his better judgement to get some fun in his life (not to mention getting away from his dick of a boss), which I can understand as far as his character is concerned.

I referenced Ride Along earlier, and since my knowledge of buddy cop movies is pretty limited, I’ll make a few more comparisons between the two. For starters, I will say that the bad guys in both movies are pretty cool. Whereas Ride Along got an unexpected but welcome extended cameo from Laurence Fishburne, here we get James D’Arcy, whom for some reason I kept mistaking for Ethan Hawke for most of the film. D’Arcy does a great job as Mossi Kasic, giving the character a very manic yet intimidating air to him. We also get Andy Garcia as his partner in crime, a casting decision that I slightly scratched my head at but for no other reason than that it started giving me Little Fockers flashbacks. All the same, he does well with his role with a calm yet unsettling demeanor. One final note while we’re talking about actors: Keegan-Michael Key as Pupa is a definite scene-stealer here, and I’m glad for it.

All in all, despite how positive this all sounds, this is just okay. Keep in mind that the comedy is a lot more miss than hit, and it does take a while to really get going with more of the hits, and all these positives aren’t exactly floating as easily as they were.

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