Film review: LET’S BE COPS, from Built For Speed

Let’s Be Cops is a major source of disappointment. It had most of the credentials for a mega turkey: a buddy cop piss-take storyline and a Wayans a in a lead role but astonishingly the film exceeds all expectations by being mediocre.  It’s probably because Lets Be Cops borrows so liberally from other films such as Beverley Hills Cop, Stripes and Horrible Bosses that makes it at least partially watchable.

Damon Wayans Jr plays nerdy video game designer Justin who shares a flat with failed grid iron player and general layabout Ryan (Jake Johnson). Over thirty and completely disenchanted with their jobs or lack thereof, Justin and Ryan feel their lives have been dismal failures. A chance for excitement and fulfilment presents itself when the police uniforms they wear to a costume party are mistaken for the real thing and people begin showing them respect for the first time in their lives.  While Justin smells a prison sentence, Ryan gleefully embraces the opportunity to exploit the power of the police uniform, not to help people but to get into nightclub VIP sections and make people perform ridiculous embarrassing acts in public. The prank turns nasty though when the two knuckleheads cross sinister Russian mobster Mossi (James D’arcy) and his crew of gun runners.

This is a mostly predictable and juvenile comedy with a smattering of laughs courtesy of Ryan’s relentless stupidity and Justin’s neuroses.  Totally unfunny, though, are the gags that moronically indulge racial stereotypes and demean women.

Wayans is less shrill and more tolerable than his pop but hardly convinces as a comedy star.  Jake Johnson looks and sounds disturbingly like Charlie Day from Horrible Bosses although he occasionally seems to mutate into Denis Hopper from Colours. As the bumbling loveable loser he’s essentially playing the sort of role normally reserved for Vince Vaughan.  For reasons unknown to science Andy Garcia appears in this film.  He’s a fleeting presence as a shady associate of Mossi but he brings some unexpected acting gravitas to proceedings.

The film contains the requisite stripper music, gun worship and ultimately conservative endorsement of authority.  To its credit the action scenes have a harder edge than expected with a few moments of real tension.  This is largely due to the fact that Mossi is a genuinely menacing sleazebag.  The film also offers some brief commentary on the idea of video gamers having to confront reality but doesn’t explore this concept in any depth.

Let’s Be Cops is marginally better than anticipated but as it’s starting from such a low base of expectation, this is hardly an endorsement.

Nick’s rating: **.

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: MA.

Director(s): Luke Greenfield.

Release date: 13th Nov 2014

Running time: 104 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. 

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