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With Jim Sabatini

Let's Be Cops

Let's Be Cops
Jake M. Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle and James D'Arcy

Rated: R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: August 13, 2014 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox

Wish-fulfillment goofy action buddy comedy could have late summer sleeper potential in what'll probably appeal to fans of 21 Jump Street, Superbad and White Chicks to name a few (perhaps even older viewers will still have those Police Academy and Cheech and Chong films on their brain). But, one that is a little less spry and pungently rendered for the possible positive side-effects of arrested development.

Let's Be Cops stars Jake M. Johnson (known for his work on the small-screen New Girl) and Damon Wayans,Jr. as LA roommates Ryan and Justin, a former college football player (getting by from a commercial for genital herpes and reliving his gridiron dreams before injury by taking on and knocking over kids while acting as a coach; the more sensible buddy is into video game designing showing more responsibility than Ryan and not self-assured about his idea but hesitant as his "Patrolman" pitch isn't as favorable as something with firemen and zombies.

In Luke Greenfield's contrived, amusingly crazy brand of cinema whose tone gets progressively less light-hearted, the 30ish pair inadvertently putting on police uniforms for a college costume (actually masquerade) party start to use the respect their new look entails. Justin has a badge which reads Chang on it. Initially their new look has given them (literally) a high and cocksure attitude to clean up the streets the way they (or at least Ryan) sees fit.

Ryan is driven to the occupation (which in a way forecasts the final scenes) and Justin has eyes for a local waitress and aspirating make-up artist Josie (Nina Dobrev), but they're in the domain of a real LA cop, Off. Segars (Rob Riggle formerly of the Marine Corps Reserves and of films like 21 Jump Street and The Lorax in congenial, gullible form) and targeted by a local thuggish type with a spider on his neck boss Mossi (James D'Arcy) whose got the back of a white-goateed higher-up with law-enforcement connections (Andy Garcia, in a throwaway role). Armaments and cash isn't in short supply as these impersonators are feared to be ATF or feds.

Some filmgoers may be reminded of a mediocre John Candy/Eugene Levy pairing that featured one of Meg Ryan's earlier roles that worked off the bungling nature of the characters to an extent as the violence and action definitely picks up in the latter half. A candidly humorous highlight occurs when Ryan and Justin join in on authorities, including Segars handling a break-in at a local hardware store. There's fun for the YouTube generation and procuring putative authentic-like devices needed for the profession (including decals), but the rapport between its leads proves that Wayans,Jr. and Johnson has a way of securing laughs, especially as surveillance and disguises are par for the course. As well as a hit of a certain potent drug key to the plotting of formidable Emmy nominee Breaking Bad.

Under a menacing D'Arcy and sweet, looking-for-love Dobrev, the former of whom has designs on the latter's character who both aren't able to elicit much personality, Garcia and Riggle are the more identifiable backup players. Yet, they're really are pawns for ensuing madcap, and more intense mayhem (which may remind some of similar interludes in the best of Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs). Less noticeable names like Angela Kerecz and dreadlocked, metal-toothed Keegan-Michael Key fare better in more physical, outrageous turns, whether promiscuous or unintelligibly motivational. Let's Be Cops is armed and dangerous to take advantage from its bawdy, absurd of the less discerning on-looker on appreciating the more real effective training when it comes to actually representing a municipality's finest in law enforcement.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Let's Be Cops  D      C+   C-                  C- 

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