The buddy cop genre has been alive and well in recent years, thanks in no small part to 21 Jump Street and its sequel. That showed the potential for box office gold from a simple film premise, blown out of proportion and based on a grounding of chemistry between its leads. The latest spin on this is Let’s Be Cops and it doesn’t quite pass the test.
Roommates Justin (Marlon Wayans Jr.) a failing video game designer and unemployed Ryan (Jake Johnson) are 30-years old and stuck in a rut. They decide to go to a fancy dress party as cops and are amazed by the attention they receive, although they eventually run into a gang of thugs run by the psychotic Mossi (James D’Arcy). Refusing to give up on his new fake career Ryan drags Justin further into the web of deceit risking both their lives and those of the people they care about.
Aside from the initial reasoning for becoming police officers, the synopsis for Let’s Be Cops could easily be a drama or a thriller, but it is content to play it as a straight-up comedy. Anyone familiar with the sitcom New Girl will understand the chemistry between Johnson and Wayans and how well suited they are to a bromance such as Let’s Be Cops. It’s a shame that they haven’t been given the opportunity before now and a real shame that the script doesn’t match their talent. It’s not a bad film by any stretch, but rather a forgettable comedy.
If studios has any sense they will pair the duo with a more concise and well-paced script to avoid the need for their incredible comic timing to have to carry the whole film. Fortunately for Let’s Be Cops they are on form and their bromantic bickering saves it from complete disaster.
What a shame though to have such potential for a premise, only to follow the same old genital-slapstick with a boring gun-fight. Director Luke Greenfield consistently plays for the basest comedy at all times, so even when it sweeps up into a frantic verbal sparring between the leads, you know a gratuitous testicle shot isn’t far behind.
The action finale is flatly directed and almost superfluous to its own narrative, shunted in presumably to keep some teenage boys interested. 21 Jump Street, from which this borrows more than heavily suffers the same problem, but at least in that film the rest was consistently witty and sharp.
Let’s Be Cops tries to recreate the success of 21 Jump Street using two actors with a similar chemistry. Unfortunately the stilted script really does stop it from getting close and Hill and Tatum continue to stand head and shoulders above the new pretenders.