Film Review of ‘LET’S BE COPS’


Release date: 13th November 2014

Director: Luke Greenfield

Cast: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Jr, Nina Dobrev, Andy Garcia, James D’Arcy, Rob Riggle

Classification: MA15+ (Strong Violence, Sexual References, Nudity and Coarse Language)

Review by Peter Gray

‘Let’s Be Cops’ was never going to be a movie that would inspire much hope, but at the same time it wasn’t necessarily dead-in-the-water from its inception with a few key ingredients that could at least earn it a passable viewing. Director Luke Greenfield has proven his capabilities behind the camera with the surprisingly decent ‘The Girl Next Door’ (we’ll overlook his other efforts ‘The Animal’ and ‘Something Borrowed’), and co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr, both of whom feature on the TV series ‘New Girl’, are appealing enough to own breakout potential. So does this cohesion equate to anything remotely watchable?

The short answer: No. It’s not a surprising conclusion yet at the same time it’s baffling at just how poor a final product ‘Let’s Be Cops’ is with a ludicrous plot (even by the genre standards) and an odd tone that sees the film shift from an over-the-top “comedic” setting to an unexpected gritty action film finale. Whatever kind of action/buddy cop movie this was trying to be, it had no idea if it wanted to be a comedy with action elements or the other way around. Worst of all is that after about 20 minutes, we’ve had our fill of Johnson and Wayans posing as cops, and at 100 minutes long the end doesn’t appear in sight nearly as quick as we would like.

As for the sitcom-premise-stretched-to-a-feature-length-movie-plot, the film allows Ryan (Johnson), a former football prodigy turned unemployed slacker, and roommate Justin (Wayans), a wannabe video game creator, to pose as cops for an evening when they misinterpret a masquerade party invitation as fancy dress and rock up in full LAPD gear. Somehow Justin manages to get his hands on authentic police uniforms – it’s briefly explained as material needed for his policeman video game pitch – and when they ditch the party, they notice the reaction they receive when walking the streets as cops and, in typical Hollywood fashion, take it upon themselves to impersonate the law. It’s all so highly illegal and improbable, though to be fair Justin researches the offences they’ve committed and intends to come clean, and it only seems fitting that they stumble into a major arms cartel and subsequently assist the real police in taking them down, but when everything is as unfunny as it is presented here it makes the lunacy much harder to swallow.

The trailer pretty much showcases the funniest moments so the actual film is highly sporadic on genuine laughs, and the climactic shoot-out (featuring Andy Garcia and a buffed-up James D’Arcy) is played almost entirely straight that it’s a particularly jarring experience when the film tries to go back to being a goofball comedy. The chemistry between Johnson and Wayans is really the only thing the film gets right, and given how monumentally successful this film has been ($120m worldwide on a $17m budget) they could potentially share fruitful careers but ‘Let’s Be Cops’ is far from a highlight in either of their CV’s. Care to re-visit ’22 Jump Street’?

My rating: 1.5/5

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