“Let’s Be Cops” is a one joke movie, and sadly that joke isn’t very good. It’s a buddy cop bro-mance that, instead of hinging on the chemistry and personalities of the characters, asks you to laugh simply at the silliness of all the different situations they get into, like walking to the front of the line at clubs or smoking weed in public. Does any of that seem funny? How you answer determines whether it not you should see this movie.
The two friends in question are Ryan and Justin, two gentlemen in their thirties who have gone nowhere. Justin (Damon Wayans, Jr.) is an aspiring video game developer who let’s any wavy haired tool walk over him, and Ryan (Jake Johnson) is a failed pro football player. I know this not only because because at a party they show Ryan watching himself make a play in a game we can assume took place years ago. I don’t know much about televised football, but I do know they don’t show re-runs.
After 5 minutes of character development (literally, I didn’t even have to time it) the two decide to dress up like cops and proceed to harass people and take advantage of the perks. They tell people to freeze on the street, run lights, or even make gangsters dance on the street while they rob their car. Most of these scenes flounder like a goldfish being taken on a walk by its owner (terrible analogy, but just go with it). They don’t go anywhere, lacking spark or unfiltered lunacy, seeming to be written by men who have no idea how comedy works (now the analogy makes more sense…right?).
Only during a home invasion, a robbery or when Justin accidently smokes crack (it’s a classic because it works!) do the scenes shine in the absurdity of everything. Everything else including banter and situational comedy quickly becomes flaccid (much like this years “Tammy”) and got nothing but awkward “I feel like I should be laughing at this” responses from the audience. We were like old people routinely taking our daily medication, thinking it’s actually doing something, but knowing we’re being tricked by the people who gave us this crap.
That being said, despite their thinly written characters and jokes, Johnson and Wayans give it the good ol’ college try. They have a good rapport and you can tell they are great friends in real life, which goes a long way. Is their chemistry perfect like the Hill/Tatum concoction of the “Jump Street” movies? No, not even close, but if the script were better it definitely could’ve been.
I won’t even go into the sheer brain-dead logistics of the movie, like how stupid people are and how they accept the two are “real” cops, the scene when they stake out a gang and can somehow just hear people talking in the next building (that’s not how technology works!), or the suddenly uber-serious finale. It’s decent for a date nigh flick, but when it comes to “Let’s Be Cops”, you may get more laughs saying, “Let’s go to Redbox Instead”.