Let's Be Cops: Tour de force from these boys in blue
This out-of-control buddy movie is smart, charming and full of fantastic fun all the way
Who'd have thought the funniest film of the year would be a lowbrow B-flick starring two supporting actors from a US sitcom, directed by a guy who hasn't made an out-and-out comedy since 2001?
And yet, Let's Be Cops proves to be just that, capturing the freewheeling feel of the best in 1980s humour and hitching it to an actual script, rather than a bunch of overpaid egomaniacs improvising.
The premise is the very definition of ‘high-concept'. Basically, everything you need to know is in the title, and it takes all of five minutes for one of the leads to blurt out those three fateful words. When two rural losers wear LAPD uniforms to a costume party and get mistaken for the real thing, they find out it's a lot of fun to be the boys in blue.
Needless to say, things soon spiral out of control, with hilarious — and occasionally scary — consequences.
Unlike the similarly pitched White Chicks (black men pretend to be white women) or even 21 Jump Street (cops pretend to be students), Let's Be Cops remains smart, charming and amusing throughout, which, for a movie containing several kicks to the testicles and a naked, overweight man falling genitals-first onto another man's face, is some achievement.
As would-be law enforcer Justin Miller — aka Officer Chang, courtesy of his name badge — Damon Wayans Jr drums up more laughs than his father has across an entire career. He even gets away with a couple of borderline racist gags at the expense of his Asian namesake.
Meanwhile, fellow New Girl star Jake Johnson plays the sort of sleazy, desperate buffoon that in previous decades might have been portrayed by Chevy Chase or Rob Schneider. His Ryan O'Malley is summed up by a remark made by a neighbour when he first swans past in his cop uniform: “Isn't that the guy who took a s**t on our doorstep?”
Elsewhere, O'Malley — who promotes himself to sergeant, then detective — bullies kids on the football field, boasts of having done crystal meth “11 times” and embarks on sexual trysts with anyone that'll have him. Johnson isn't afraid to push the boat out with his character, and Let's Be Cops is all the better for it.
As for the villains, Andy Garcia's corrupt top cop is menacing enough, but even he is outdone by British actor James D'Arcy, who gives us a psychotic Russian mobster more terrifying than anything in the last dozen or so Stallone or Schwarzenegger vehicles. And as if that isn't enough, there are also quality supporting roles for the likes of Keegan-Michael Key from Key and Peele and The Daily Show's Rob Riggle.
Let's Be Cops is a tour de force from writer and director Luke Greenfield, who proves he hasn't lost his touch for gonzo comedy since making The Animal a decade-plus ago.
And the scope for sequels is limitless. Let's Be Doctors? Let's Be Strippers? Let's Be Journalists?
This series could be the Carry On for a new generation