New Girl co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. take their quirky humour to the big screen for this comedy caper about two shlubs who decide to masquerade as cops in order to add some excitement to their mundane lives. Directed by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door) who wrote the film alongside Nicholas Thomas (Canoga Park), Let’s Be Cops is, in my view, like a cross between the super-popular and well received 21 & 22 Jump Street Movies (starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill) and the aforementioned New Girl in which Johnson and Wayans Jr. star alongside Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone. Fans of those films, and that television show, should find plenty to enjoy about this movie.
Ryan (Johnson) and Justin (Wayans Jr.) are roommates and friends who are struggling in their lives to move on to better things. Ryan is an out of work failed football player who uses his spare time to train kids to play football at a nearby park. Justin is a video games developer who is treated like dirt by his co-workers and superiors who continue to ignore his pitches and write him off before they have heard his concepts. The two go to a costume party dressed as police officers, and when people begin to think that they’re real cops, they see a sudden instant-respect from passer’s by who previously would have ignored them. With a thirst for more of the appreciation that came with being cops, Ryan and Justin take things to the extreme, especially Ryan who, despite Justin’s pleas for them to stop the charade, studies the job deeply, buys a cop car and begins to take the whole thing to another level. When their deceit causes them to become entangled in a dangerous city-wide crime syndicate bust, they must decide what to do next, all the while avoiding being found out by the real police. In the midst of this, Justin meets Josie (Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev) and the two begin to develop feelings for one another.
I didn’t know what to expect when I jumped into this film. There hadn’t been too much promotion for it, and the trailers didn’t really show too much, but I have to say, I had such a fun time with this. The chemistry between Johnson and Wayans Jr. was a major positive about the movie. It’s a buddy-cop film, without real cops, a buddy fake-cop movie, if you will. The additional cast are also enjoyable, including Dobrev, James D’Arcy and the villainous thug Mossi, Keegan-Michael Key as the wild-eyed and comical criminal Pupa, Andy Garcia as a character I won’t go into because it may spoil things, and Rob Riggle as real-cop Segars. It’s a fun cast and the story, though pretty familiar, is very funny and caused me to laugh out loud and snort heartily on many occasions.
There may be some people who find that the whole thing has been done before, and even fairly recently, because there are plenty of obvious comparisons to other buddy-cop movies, and films like 21 Jump Street which I mentioned earlier. Still, it’s fun and easy to watch, and with the casting of Johnson, the loser-trying-to-better-himself, and Wayans Jr., the ignored and soft spoken guy who is in need of a kick in the arse, it adds a likeability to the lead characters that we can get on board with and root for, all while laughing at their constant bad decisions and over the top responses to the things happening to them. In a year where there have been less than a handful of truly enjoyable comedy flicks, this sits, for me at least, at the top of the pile with 22 Jump Street. Fun, entertaining, silly and instantly re-watchable, I found the whole charming stupidity of Ryan and Justin to be perfect for an evening where I want to kick back and chill out. While not ground-breaking or necessarily original (what is, these days?), this made me laugh more than more modern comedy tends to do, and for that reason alone I recommend giving it a shot.