film reel image

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vamos de polis 2014 * * Stars

Vamos de polisDirector: Luke Greenfield
Year: 2014
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Jr., Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev

If you've seen the trailer for 2014's Let's Be Cops, well you've probably seen the whole movie. Man I hate when that happens. All the best parts are shown and every major plot point is touched upon (in 2 to 2 and a half minutes give or take). I think if I avoided seeing any teaser clip, any advertisement, or anything posted on YouTube, I probably would have embraced "Cops" a little more. It would've been fresh and not completely objectionable or off-putting. Indeed this is a goofy comedy that takes the notion of "it's so stupid, it's funny" to almost catastrophic levels. And its implausibility factor is even further off the charts. I mean how else do you explain two knuckleheads actually being able to impersonate police officers for what seems like a long period of time. In reality, they would have been arrested in less than a day (they drive an unmarked police car that was bought online sans license plate, are you serious?!). Bottom line: this is a movie that knows it's gonna be loathe by critics, it knows that it's not a work of art, and frankly, it probably even knows that it's a steaming pile of crap. Here's the thing though: it doesn't care. And even in the moments when things turn dark and violent (there is a strength in what's on screen and it involves escaping the aspect of being a one joke vehicle, especially towards the last half), Let's Be Cops still never seems to want to take itself seriously. It's hip-hopped, weed toked, lacks logic (not to mention a public disregard for human safety or decency), and blatantly just wants to have fun. There in lies its morbid problem despite a few funny moments.

Directed by the guy who brought you the wretched Something Borrowed (New York native Luke Greenfield) and harboring a little less gross-out humor than I initially thought would occupy such a movie (a scene with a naked sumo wrestler however, will give you the heebie-jeebies), Let's Be Cops focuses on two L.A. residential sad sacks in Ryan O'Malley and Justin Miller (played by New Girl tandem Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr.). They live together, have few friends, are stuck in lousy jobs (at least one of them anyway), and spend their nights getting drunk and singing karaoke tunes (The Backstreet Boys "I Want It That Way," seriously?). When they go to a costume party billed as their college reunion (they dress up as police officers and it's a masquerade party not a costume party, oops), they become embarrassed, chat up a few people, and leave. Anyway, as they're are walking the street back to their car, they notice that people really think that they're cops. Girls stair at them (which is nice) and guys make a path for them. Basically, they have absolute power so they decide to run with it. Johnson's O'Malley becomes the ring leader of this operation. He takes total control by buying a police car on eBay (uh huh), learning police codes and procedures from YouTube videos, and also learning law enforcement fighting techniques (also from YouTube videos which I guess, have less than 500 views, interesting). Miller and O'Malley continuously go out on the town and use their police powers to do a number of asinine things. They even somehow get a radio in their car which actually disperses them to real police calls. Of note: Miller and O'Malley get a domestic disturbance call from two sorority sisters and are the only cops that show up. You'd think that actual L.A.P.D. badges would get there before them or at the same time. It doesn't make a lot of sense, right? Anyway, these two lunkheads despite being oblivious to the concept of doing real prison time, continue to exercise their fake police powers even as they get caught up/entangled with the local mob. This is when things turn a little dark, a little violent, and uneven (kind of like what went down in director Greenfield's earlier effort, The Girl Next Door).

Now despite being overly juvenile and having a movie IQ of possibly 7, Let's Be Cops still manages to have somewhat of a fairly likable cast. I especially liked Andy Garcia playing the icy Detective Brolin. I'm not sure whether he played an actual mob boss or an undercover detective posing as a mob boss. Regardless, he is quietly cool and it was great seeing him on screen again. Then we have Damon Wayans, Jr. (son of veteran comedian Damon Wayans) playing the reserved, conservative, and confidence-deprived Justin Miller. Wayans, Jr. looks like his dad, acts like his dad, and harbors some of the same mannerisms. He even does a solid job with the demands of physical comedy as well (there's a scene where he falsely interrogates some bad guys and his character makes them do some scandalous, suggestive dance moves, funny stuff). Nina Dobrev as Josie, is pretty appealing as the love interest. That leaves Jake Johnson in the lead playing a real doozy of a character in Ryan O'Malley. Listen, I think Jake Johnston is a pretty good actor. He's paid his dues and I'm happy that he finally gets to tackle a real top-billed role (as featured here). He's like the everyman of comedy. He doesn't look like a movie star. He just looks like a normal person aka the dude you would just see walking down the street. You know the guy who's wearing a robe, a wife beater, with a cigarette in his mouth, having a pair of loafers on, and going to buy the daily newspaper. He gives a decent performance but I can't dismiss how messed up his character is. His O'Malley has a real screw loose. He was supposedly a former college football quarterback even though his personality and stocky frame suggest otherwise (there's no way in the world he would even come close to playing football at Purdue). His character also doesn't work except for a stint doing a commercial about genital herpes (he gets paid $11,000 dollars for said commercial and lives off this money for five years, yeah right). Basically, no matter how much jail time he's looking at for impersonating a cop (we're talking about 15 years as the film suggests), he still doesn't give a hoot. What's worse is that he drags his poor, luckless roommate with him on this totally illegal excursion. Of note: Johnson's O'Malley tries to run over some kids playing football in a nearby park (what the?!!?) and even at the end of the film, he's somehow able to continue being a cop, get sworn in as a cop, and drive a cop car for reasons I just couldn't figure out. Frankly, this dude doesn't need to be on the streets fighting crime. He needs help, professional help in some sort of institution if you know what I'm saying.

In conclusion, I mentioned at the beginning of this review that Let's Be Cops had that "it's so stupid, it's funny" vibe to it. Unfortunately, the humorous overtones were way more "stupid" than "funny". Yeah I laughed and chuckled a few times, but I couldn't help but label "Cops" a second rate Harold & Kumar flick that seemed to be on autopilot (Damon Wayans, Jr. plays a version of straight man Harold to Jake Johnston's ludicrous adaption of Kumar). Also, I felt like a lot of the gags and jokes relied on bad language as a mask for generating laughs. As a result, "Cops" holds back somewhat on the funny when it could have pushed the envelope more in the vein of say, 2012's 21 Jump Street. Oh well, I did like the title though. Let's Be Cops has a certain simplicity and a catchiness to it. Too bad what's on screen couldn't back things up a bit more. Let's Cop Out is more like it.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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