The new film comedy-adventure “Let’s Be Cops” reminded me of “Fired Up!” and “Miss March.” Like them, the new film had a good story and was fairly well written and developed. It was made, it seemed, more because somebody had loved the script enough to work on it than because recognized comedy stars were wanting to do the parts.
In fact, “Cops” doesn’t have any real stars in it except Andy Garcia, and his part is almost small enough to be called a cameo. Movie-goers will immediately recognize Rob Riggle from all sorts of recent screen comedies. But his part here is not much bigger than were his parts in “The Hangover” and “21 Jump Street.”
Playing the lead character in writer and director Luke Greenfield’s film are Jake Johnson and Daymon Wayans Jr. (in his most likeable part maybe ever). Johnson plays Ryan, a former Purdue quarterback who has been kept out of the NFL by an injury. He has been living on a fee he made appearing in a TV commercial for a genital herpes medicine.
Wayans plays Justin, a video game designer whose ego maniacal boss won’t look as his first-person shooter game, Patrolman. Then, too, Justin’s too shy to approach a cute waitress in the boys’ favorite cafe.
Our heroes go to a masquerade party, which Ryan mistakenly assumes is a costume party. They wear authentic LAPD outfits Justin had gotten for his game pitch. Dressed as cops, the boys soon discover they have become people of stature. Girls love them. Strangers stop when they yell “Freeze.”
So Ryan decides to take this a little farther. He watches internet videos which instruct him on police methods and lingo. He buys a two-tone Crown Victoria from an on-line auction house, installs the roof top light-bar, and replicates the cop insignias on the doors.
Then the two of them go looking for the limo of thugs who insulted them a few nights before, when they were out seeing how night clubbers would receive the society of dancing police officers.
These thugs will be important to the on-going story. But so will a real cop they join in chasing down eccentric burglars in a True Value Hardware store long after closing time. They meet Officer Segars (Riggle) on this stop. The movie also uses the incident as an opportunity for a bit of gross-out comedy—one of our heroes is swamped by a flabby, nude intruder—as if to show that “Let’s Be Cops” is in the spirit of the age.
During a stake-out (in the apartment of a passionate and clumsily gymnastic would-be lover), the boys identify the long-haired, tattooed driver of illegal merchandise who makes a drop off at the thugs’ hang out. They grab him and interrogate him and discover that he is a pleasant enough fellow, ready after a while to help them find out what is going on behind the green door.
He suggests they attend a party at the hang out. Justin goes in disguised as the driver, his make-up done by the pretty waitress who wants to be a movie make-up artist. A lucky punch gives him some status with the gang. And he and Ryan discover why their favorite cafe is so important to the thugs’ business.
They also discover an arsenal of weapons, which will figure later in the story. But at this point in the film, audience members will have a number of questions they want answered. What is the relationship between Garcia’s character and the thugs?
Will the boys be caught impersonating policemen? Will they succeed in passing their damning information about the gang along to someone in authority? And, mostly, how will their experiences as fake cops help them to take courage and succeed in life?
Every question gets a satisfactory answer, even though no answer will surprise any regular movie-goer. And then there are the funny outtakes that run beneath the closing credits. “Let’s Be Cops” isn’t going to be your favorite movie, but it has been made with some care, and it can be pretty amusing.