Saturday, June 27, 2015

Let's Be Cops - 2014

"Let's Be Cops" - 2014
Dir. by Luke Greenfield - 1 hr. 44 min.

Official Red Band Trailer #2

by Clayton Hollifield

It's been a while since I've truly enjoyed a dumb comedy (and I'm using that term as a genre, ie. "dumb comedy," and not to slur a comedy by calling it dumb), but "Let's Be Cops" wasn't half bad.  When I saw the trailer last year, I kind of wanted to go check it out, but also knew I'd have one hell of a time convincing anyone to go see it with me.  So it slipped through the cracks, and I didn't get around to checking it out until last night, when I discovered it was hiding in the on-demand section of my cable box.  Here's the thing, dumb comedies won't cure what ails you.  At their best, you can check out for a couple of hours and laugh at some doofuses.  That's about it.  It's not fair to judge them on any other basis than whether you had a good time for a little while, perhaps when you really needed it.

Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans, Jr.) are a pair of losers (let's call them) underachievers who had moved to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams, and now that both are approaching 30, are starting to question whether it's worth it to keep trudging along, or better just to move back to Ohio and do whatever it is that people who move back to Ohio do.  Ryan was a star football player who had an injury derail his career, and Justin is a video-game designer without a spine or any confidence in himself.  They head to a reunion party dressed as cops, only to discover it's a masquerade (which is one of those parties where everyone wears feathered masks and suits and it devolves into "Eyes Wide Shut"), and feel the scorn of their peers, who judge them harshly.  Dejectedly, Ryan and Justin wander around town in their cop outfits, and discover that people actually think they're cops.  So they roll with it, have the night of their lives, and eventually decide to do it again.  And again.  Until they get into a spot of trouble.

One of the things I really enjoyed about "Let's Be Cops" was the work of Damon Wayans, Jr.  There was part of me that fully expected him to have that over-the-top hammy energy that some of the Wayans family possess; this was not the case.  Aside from the familial resemblance, his work was understated, well-timed, and just plain funny.  I feel like it's worth mentioning that he was funny (as was his co-star, Jake Johnson), and that the movie is funny, because there are a lot of things that are pretty stock (TM Lars Ulrich) in "Let's Be Cops," and if you want to enjoy it as a film, you're going to have to forgive some things.

The girl-shaped-object of the film, Josie (Nina Dobrev), is pretty inconsequential.  But, at the same time, history has proven that if you don't include a girl-shaped-object in a losers' redemption story, no one will go see it.  Partially, I believe that's because what defines an underachiever as a "loser" is not having a girl-shaped-object in his life, and that no one will believe that anything meaningful has changed in a characters' life unless he has someone on his arm.  Yeah, this film probably fails the silly Bechdel Test, as do 98% of dumb comedies, but that's because the basic structure of this type of film both requires the presence of a ridiculously hot, yet also attainable girl-shaped-object who also can't have any meaningful personality or influence on the main characters, because the story is really about friendship and directionless men getting their act together.  And, in the parlance of our times, obtaining access to the girl-shaped-object is more about leveling up than being involved in a emotionally meaningful relationship.  Put it another way: would anyone go see a movie where the goal is for some dork to get his life together not because he wants to impress some girl, but instead really wants a copy of Incredible Hulk #181, and this was the motivation the character's behavior hinged upon for the entirety of a movie?

Possibly, but probably not.  So, if you're seeing a film like "Let's Be Cops," you're going to have to check the expectations that there's going to be anything meaningful for women to watch or do.  But so what?  This is a dumb comedy.  The question is whether you laughed, not whether you advanced the cause of equal rights and screen time for women.  There are a lot of funny things here.  Yeah, it seems ridiculously easy to impersonate a policeman, and that the characters didn't even know it was illegal is pretty silly.  Getting a patrol car from eBay is pretty funny.  And the main duo do learn respect for police, beyond just people treating them differently when they're in uniform.  But the big thing is that if you want to watch "Let's Be Cops," don't think about it too hard.  It's a funny movie with funny people in it, but there's a lot of machinery that doesn't quite work propping up the surface of the film.  Also, beware that while the rating does promise nudity, it doesn't specify what kind (or from whom).

2.5 / 5 - TV

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