Review: Let’s Be Cops (2014)

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Director: Luke Greenfield
Screenwriters: Luke Greenfield & Nicholas Thomas
Cast: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev, James D’Arcy, Keegan-Michael Key & Andy Garcia
Runtime: 104 min // Certificate: 15


I know that the remake / reboot culture has gotten a little bit out of hand recently, but remaking Ride Along just a few months after its initial release really does take the piss…

I jest, though the comparisons between Let’s Be Cops and the equally boring Ride Along do raise an important point about just how generic and featureless this film actually is. Set in LA, it tells the story of two flatmates, Ryan (Johnson; 21 Jump Street – a film that does the whole “buddy cop” thing a million times better) and Justin (Wayans Jr; The Other Guys – likewise…) who dress up as cops on a night out, only to be mistaken for the real deal by members of the public, criminals and even other cops. Ryan decides to take things to the next level, purchasing a police car and kitting it out with all of the official gear, while Justin sheepishly warns him against such foolishness, until the two of them find themselves on the wrong side of a Russian gangster, Mossi (D’Arcy; Cloud Atlas), and are forced to go to the actual police for help.

Directed and co-written by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door), Let’s Be Cops is lumbered with one single but fatal problem; it simply isn’t funny. Or, at least, I personally didn’t find it funny. The woman across the aisle from me in the cinema was practically pissing herself every few minutes, so it obviously has an audience that it knows how to appeal to (for which it deserves some credit), but that audience doesn’t include me. There’s no intelligence or thought to the jokes, and no real effort is made to make them unique to the plot. If they weren’t all quite so bland and uninspired then maybe, just maybe, something good could’ve come from all of this, but as with so many films of its type it often feels like the plot was written to fit the crass gags and lazy sexism, rather than the other way around. Change the characters from cops to fire-fighters or teachers and what’s the difference? The basic structure of the gags would still be the same.

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There’s a kernel of a decent comedic idea in here, but it’s barely enough to justify a short film, never mind this 100-minute slog. Furthermore, because the jokes quickly run stale, the film seems to misinterpret the definition of an “action comedy” by focussing on one subgenre over the other at any given time, rather than attempting to blend the two together. The final act is just a bog-standard action film with barely a laugh in sight (as opposed to the rest of the film, which while also painfully unfunny at least tries to muster up a few giggles now and then) resulting in an experience in which the pacing is as shoddy as the writing.

If you’re a fan of the types of films from which this borrows heavily then you might just enjoy it. Johnson and Wayans Jr. seem to be having a decent enough time, though as Mr Kermode always says, if the actors are clearly enjoying themselves then quite often it means that the audience is not. Unlike Ride Along, Let’s Be Cops isn’t particularly hateful, and it manages to avoid being needlessly offensive, but it’s also witless and quite fantastically dull.

Certain people will enjoy this one a lot more than I did, so if you thought the trailer was decent then maybe give it a go. As for everyone else; if you think it looks shit, that’s because it is.