Poor you, Let’s Be Cops. You suffer the bad luck to be released at exactly the wrong moment in time, one in which police in Missouri are accused of shooting an unarmed teenager to death and then responding to the ensuing protests by locking down airspace, arresting journalists, shooting even more people with rubber bullets, tear-gassing nonviolent civilians and generally behaving like a hostile, occupying army rather than like public servants and protectors. But that is not your only problem, Let’s Be Cops. You also suffer from near-total unfunniness.
The blame, as usual, lies somewhere other than with your cast. The cinema landfill of discarded comedies-that-couldn’t is neck-deep with talented actors, ensembles that seemingly couldn’t lose. And then they lost. It’s an overworked or undercooked script or it’s hack direction or it’s weird editing choices; it’s tone-deaf producers or it’s marketing or it’s test audiences full of people whose opinions should never be trusted. It’s any of those things; sometimes all of them. Whatever the interplay of reasons here, they add up to you, Let’s Be Cops, sneaking into theaters at the end of August and lying down for a nap, a weak-willed product without the balls to earn its R-rating.
Sort of. There are actual balls on display here. They belong to a very, very large and naked extra and they wind up on Damon Wayans, Jr.’s face. And that is funny. Later Wayans' character smokes meth and he stream-of-consciousness trips. Do people on meth really behave that way? Doesn’t matter. It’s still funny. Let’s Be Cops, you were directed by Luke Greenfield (the astonishingly weird and bad Something Borrowed) and written by Greenfield and co-writer Nicholas Thomas, who should have just let Wayans go wild and do whatever he wanted. Clearly, that would have helped.
Your story couldn’t be more basic, LBC. Wayans and Jake Johnson (New Girl) are 30 and still struggling in Los Angeles. But thanks to a couple of conveniently available police uniforms, the pair pretend to be cops for a night, with all the sudden obedience from strangers and sexual advances from women that that entails. The guys continue with the costume party, running afoul of actual criminals, corrupt cops, and a love interest (Nina Dobrev, Vampire Diaries). Eventually they help real police crack the case, dreams come true, and nobody winds up with a felony on their record for impersonating a police officer or riding around in a fake cop car.
Let’s Be Cops, you feel quite a bit like Ride Along, and that’s nobody’s idea of a movie to copycat. You lack nerve, you pause both comedy and action for grinding downshifts into special feelings, lovey-dovey blahblah and self-esteem troubles. You get so many aspects of human being stuff so thoroughly wrong – a short list: the workplace, friendship, crime, dating, male bonding, race, video games, masquerade balls, police, how many hours are in a day, and all women everywhere – that satirizing any of it becomes impossible. Your farce depends entirely on the suspension of real life, and when there are no rules, breaking them becomes well beside the point. You should probably go to movie jail now, Let's Be Cops, but it seems like you might not know any better, and there are laws protecting the incapacitated.