Featuring two of the stars of TV’s New Girl Let’s Be Cops could quite easily be a spin-off from that show. Of course the two stars in question are not Zooey Deschanel so if you’re hoping for some of that off-kilter quirk you’ve come to the wrong place.
Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) are early 30s roommates who haven’t quite hit their LA career goals. But when they wear fancy-dress cop uniforms out one night they realise the power and respect they’ve always craved. Until that is the pair uncover a plot involving crime lord Mossi (James D’Arcy) and soon find themselves out of their depth against real bad guys.
There seem to be two key inspirations to Let’s Be Cops. The first is the goodwill afforded to the genuinely funny 21 and 22 Jump Street films that have seen slackers become cops and make good of it. The second is the subplot of Superbad that sees Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as best friend, irresponsible policemen. But while those two films made good use of the premise Let’s Be Cops never manages to either create fun action nor enough, or any real, laughs.
Instead it’s a repetitive story of Ryan wanting to push his fake-cop credentials even further as Justin insists they should stop before it’s too late. It wants to be Hot Fuzz, with its Michael Bay pastiche to Bad Boys and other generic cop movies but it lacks the charm or fineness of Edgar Wright’s action comedy. It doesn’t matter how many f-bombs and cartoonish characters you throw in, unless you root for the heroes it’s all just white noise.
The really frustrating thing is that it could have been more, it could have been an interesting black comedy about a man pretending to be a cop and becoming drunk on the power it affords him. But the script never dares to travel down that rabbit hole, instead sticking to formula and remaining so predictable that you’ll soon tune-out.
The only redeeming thing on offer is Johnson and Wayans Jr. who, despite a fairly clunky script, manage to vaguely elicit some smiles early on. But it’s never anything more than a fleeting glimpse in to what they do in New Girl on a more sweary level. If anything the more laughable moments seem to come out from Johnson adlibbing throwaway lines that just about elevate an otherwise dull moment to something vaguely entertaining.
Lacking in genuine comedy and playing out with little more than a highlight-reel of similar films Let’s Be Cops doesn’t arrest and rarely serves.