Let’s Be Cops is a film whose premise is not something that can sustain it for over 90 minutes. That premise — where regular guys pretend to be police officers — is funny for about 20 minutes. After that, it gets stale. In order to keep it fresh, they’re put into a real life police situation. That fuels the rest of the plot and humor. It’s nowhere near as enjoyable as watching the two leading characters goofing off and dressing up as police officers, with people believing them.
The leads are New Girls alumni, Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr., who are playing losers named Ryan and Justin. They’re from Ohio, but living in LA, and they’re struggling. They live together past the age of 30, they’re both single, and they’re both doing really poorly at their jobs — when they even have jobs. For a dress-up party, they go as cops. Walking home after being made fun of, they decide to play the role. And people believe them. Soon enough, this is how they spend all of their time. They’re having fun, and it’s pretty funny, I guess.
And then things degenerate. The two find themselves at odds with a real-life mobster, some dirty cops, and … some other things, and have to somehow get themselves out of it. How do they try to do it? By acting just like real cops, of course. Yeah, it turns out that all that training you’re supposed to go through really shouldn’t be required, since two goofs off the street can basically do the job. Sure, they require the assistance of a real cop (Rob Riggle), but really, they’re fine.
This is a buddy cop movie through and through, and there are few beats that it doesn’t cover that you’d expect it to. The two have good chemistry and their banter is the most fun, they have a fight near the end before the inevitable reconciliation, because that adds “tension,” and they get to joke their way through the action scenes with little chance that anything will go wrong. These movies are supposed to be funny, not thrilling, and Let’s Be Cops certainly isn’t the latter. And it’s only sometimes the former.
There’s a reason that Let’s Be Cops has been dumped in August. There is a lack of name recognition, for one. While New Girl fans — guilty! — will recognize the leads, they’re not draws at the box office. The film also just isn’t particularly good. It’s not funny enough to be worth the trip to the cinema. And with a comedy, that’s what’s most important: Will you laugh through most of it? In this film’s case, the answer is an emphatic “maybe.” Lots of people laughed at the screening I attended. I laughed about half as much, which was still a decent amount. But the laughs are mostly front-loaded. Once the characters are put in “danger,” the laughs start to taper off.
The villain — at least, the one who’s not a spoiler — is played by James D’Arcy, who got buff and has fake tattoos, because he’s the bad guy. He kind of reminded me of CM Punk, but perhaps that’s just because WWE fans won’t stop chanting his name on a weekly basis, and it’s getting to my head. Right, the movie. He’s fun in it. He’s almost more fun than the leads, but he’s not in it that much. Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev also has a role, but just as a love interest. She’s not biting into anyone, or even the role, as she looks completely uninterested throughout.
How often do I mention TV series in a film review? I don’t think it’s that often. But here I’ve named a couple. Why? Perhaps because that gives me filler material because the movie isn’t particularly interesting to talk about. That’s probably why. But it’s also to give you some alternatives. Especially if you watch the movie and like the actors. Both series — yes, even the vampire thing — are better investments of your time than Let’s Be Cops.
Is Let’s Be Cops worth your time? If you’re a fan of the actors and you’ve already seen the TV series they’ve starred in, then perhaps its 90-minute running time will be worth it. But most of it falls into generic buddy cop material. You’ve seen it before, and there’s not a whole lot fresh to be seen. It starts off fun, as the two leads pretend to be cops in harmless situations, but once things get dire, it becomes more generic and the laughs die down.