Home  >  Movies & TV  >  Movies & TV Reviews

Screen Shots

Taking aim at the best and worst of movies and television.

Movie review: ‘Let’s Be Cops’

Let’s Be Cops

* * 

Director: Luke Greenfield

Cast: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Nina Dobrev, James D’Arcy, Rob Riggle, Andy Garcia

Rated: R (strong language including sexual references, graphic nudity, violence and drug use)

Running time: 104 min.


Posted 9:24am on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014

The laughs are loud, lewd and low in Let’s Be Cops, a spoof of cop “buddy pictures” that is pretty much the definition of “an August comedy.”

The last month of summer is typically a dumping ground for titles that studios don’t have high hopes for. Sometimes, that’s because of the lack of marketable stars. Sometimes, the films are just too hard to market period. And sometimes, if they’re comedies, it’s because the belly laughs are few and far between. All of those apply here.

Jake Johnson of TV’s New Girl is paired up with another generation of the Wayans family — Damon Wayans Jr. — in this farce about two Ohio losers losing their way through Los Angeles, a tough place to be a single guy with zero status.

Justin (Wayans) is a meek and mousy video game developer who is so passive that he gives off a feminine vibe. Ryan (Johnson) is an ex-jock who once quarterbacked for Purdue but now spends his days roughing up kids in pick-up games on a local playground. Nobody gives either of these guys a second look.

Justin’s cop-centric video game may have been rejected by his bullying boor of a boss, but the police gear he has around the house is handy to have when he and Ryan want to drop in on an alumni “costume” party. People there mistake them for police. Women eyeball these manly men in uniform. And Ryan, who used to feel the love of the crowd, gets hooked.

Next thing you know, they’re walking the streets, in uniform with fake guns and fake name tags — Justin is “Officer Chang.” The cute waitress he’d like to reveal his true identity/sexuality to (Nina Dobrev) checks him out, so he’s in. But Ryan is way in — trading his battered ’80s Camaro for an eBay police cruiser, adding decals and lights, boning up on police procedure, listening for real police calls on a scanner.

“The plan is we control the situation,” he growls. “That’s what the YouTube video says!”

Things get more and more out of hand, from domestic disturbances that turn out to be spirited sorority girl brawls, to tangles with the Russian mob. The psychotic head mobster Mossi (James D’Arcy) is not amused by “the new sheriffs in town.”

Co-writer/director Luke Greenfield (Something Borrowed) lets what few laughs there are in the script land. Johnson’s timing is sharp, and Wayans has that Wayans way with dopey under-reactions to crazy situations.

The pairing of these two sometimes works, but Wayans has more of the name and the look than the edge or charismatic comic spark of his dad or his dad’s funnier family members.

Johnson has made a number of smart indie film choices that allowed him to shine — Drinking Buddies, Safety Not Guaranteed. This one is far more conventional and seriously short of zingers.

“What’s the worst that could happen?”

The answer to that is, you could end up in a summer comedy that’s barely funny enough to warrant — ahem — release in the summer.

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?


Hey there. or join DFW.com. Your account. Log out.

Remember me




We now have a new, simpler way for you to enter and search for events, at listings.dfw.com. As always, when you submit an event to appear online, it will also be available for us in our print publication. But now you can simply enter your event and provide an email address, rather than creating a separate account and registering. Our new listings tool is still a work in progress, so we appreciate your patience as we fine-tune it. Please contact us at hsvokos@dfw.com if you have any questions or concerns.