You’d think gun-happy police would have enough PR problems these days—now they must contend with lame portrayals in aggressively unfunny August comedies. Directed by Luke Greenfield (whose The Girl Next Door suggested a brain), Let’s Be Cops is both hyperactive and shoddy, a skit-length concept stretched beyond shattering. Postcollegiate losers Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) flail in unfulfilled lives, the former a washed-up football player who now bullies kids in pickup games, the latter an effete computer-game designer who can’t stand up to his boss. After dressing up as officers and reaping unusual rewards—kisses from drunk party girls?—they take the ruse too far and find themselves on actual crime calls.
The movie is being sold as zany and irreverent; its few laughs (all of which boil down to: Hey, we can make strangers do things) are crammed into the trailer. Not revealed beforehand are the remarkably long stretches of sub-Apatow male bonding, dragging the movie closer to a psychodrama. Tonally, Let’s Be Cops then trips into a minefield after tiring of its own provocative setup; suddenly, there’s an actual cop in the guys’ midst (the effortlessly believable Rob Riggle, a former Marine lieutenant colonel), and the movie sobers up, disastrously, into a rise-to-the-occasion Bad Boys action flick, never mind the credentials. Neither at ease as a broad romp or a stakes-heavy shoot-’em-up, the film deserves a stern verbal warning at the least. From Police Academy to Hot Fuzz, there are satires to be made about undisciplined law enforcement; this will not join their ranks, try as it might.
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