If The Cop Baby was an American film, it would be something we’d all probably mock, like Show Dogs or Nine Lives. Seeing how a high-concept comedy is executed in a foreign country adds a layer of amusement, though. That’s because, while the premise may seem like the kind of thing Hollywood routinely cranks out, the tone is culturally unique, and that’s fun to watch. This comedy — which is a cross between Lethal Weapon and The Boss Baby, all filtered through a Russian sensibility — exemplifies that idea. The Cop Baby made its North American premiere at Cinepocalypse 2018.
A tough-as-nails police force major named Chromov (Sergey Garmash) has been trying to track down an international drug trafficker known as the Dragon. Just when it seems he’s about to nab the guy, his mission is botched by a meek environmental officer (Andrey Nazimov), leaving him shot and critically wounded. A vengeful fortune-teller has put a curse on Chromov, so his consciousness is transferred into the body of the officer’s newborn son. A year later, he decides to take up the case again, from the safety of a stroller. He enlists his “daddy” to help, but their styles are very different.
The comedy value of The Cop Baby comes from seeing a (not always convincing) CGI infant whack another child with a shovel, get behind the wheel during an automobile chase, and use a baby monitor to issue orders to his father, who’s inside a strip club. Perhaps the funniest scene finds Chromov fighting a capybara at a zoo over a piece of watermelon they’re both hungry for.
Some of the jokes poke fun at the idea of a toddler with an adult mentality, including a couple good ones about Chromov being humiliated over having to wear diapers. A scene where he expresses interest in watching his “parents” have sex, only to be rocked to sleep against his will, similarly elicits laughter. And, of course, the very sight of a baby giving an adult lessons in being badass is inherently humorous.
The Cop Baby‘s plot is nothing spectacular, and it hinges on a third-act twist that’s been done a million times in American police thrillers. That said, the movie has a delightfully bonkers quality to it. The script largely avoids obvious lowbrow jokes, and the actors play everything completely straight — whereas a domestic version would probably star someone like Adam Sandler and be filled with gags related to poop and breast feeding. The idea of a fearless police officer trapped inside the body of a one-year-old is taken seriously, then used to deliver a string of insane comedic moments.
Every so often, a picture comes along that’s so bizarre, you just have to see it for yourself. The Cop Baby is one of those pictures.