The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Let's Be Cops

Some random thoughts that went through my head as I watched Let's Be Cops:

I bet they ad-libbed that scene. That feels ad-libbed.

Why are they taking the story in this direction? This seems like a mistake.

Are those real testicles being dangled in front of Damon Wayans, Jr.'s face, or is that some kind of rubber prosthetic?

I'm thirsty.

What time is it? This seems like it should be over soon.

Maybe you can guess that I was something less than fully immersed in the film. I don't get pictures like Let's Be Cops. It has a funny premise and two leads with great comic chemistry, yet it throws those things right out the window and proceeds to make one bad decision after another. Talk about not knowing what you've got!

This is the story of two buddies. Ryan (Jake Johnson) is a one-time college football star whose life went to seed after an injury. He now spends his days pretending to coach a kids' team. Justin (Wayans, Jr.) is a failed videogame designer who can't muster up the courage to ask out a waitress (Nina Dobrev) he's long had a crush on. One evening, the guys get invited to a costume party. They dress as police officers and, walking down an L.A. street afterward, are overjoyed by the reaction they get. People think they're real cops. Women flirt with them. Everybody looks at them with respect. Ryan gets the bright idea that they should carry on with the charade, because what else do they have going on? He buys a used police car on eBay. They begin responding to actual calls, including a domestic dispute. Naturally, they're in over their heads.

Let's Be Cops gets off on the wrong foot. Despite a concept that would seem ripe for humor, this is what I call a “one-scener.” By that, I mean everything the story sets up is done with only one scene. There's one scene showing that Justin can't get his boss to accept his videogame concept. There's one scene showing him pining for Josie the waitress. There's one scene showing Ryan coaching kids, and one scene of him lamenting his inability to play football. And so on. In other words, the screenplay never does anything to develop its idea; it simply does as little as possible to set an element up, then moves on to the next one. This approach is not conducive to comedy, where things become funnier the more involved or detailed they are.

A far bigger problem plagues Let's Be Cops, and it's one that has plagued almost every cop comedy from the (admittedly terrific) Beverly Hills Cop to The Heat to Ride Along. Namely, it has to start taking itself seriously after a while. Ryan and Justin don't just pretend to be cops. No, they end up unknowingly interfering with a major crime operation run by a ruthless lowlife. This, of course, puts them in grave danger. It also necessitates a second act that finds them essentially becoming real cops who are trying to figure out what the crook is doing, and a third act that has them trying to take him down. What starts off as a wacky what if? comedy gradually turns into a semi-straightforward – and utterly preposterous – action picture. The early scenes of Ryan and Justin playfully pretending give way to shootouts and other unexpectedly nasty bits of violence.

What's most unfortunate here is that Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. give their all to this sorry story. The actors co-star together on the TV series New Girl. They're friends in real life. They understand one another's comic rhythms and are able to play off each other skillfully. To the degree that Let's Be Cops is watchable, it's entirely due to these actors. But they can only carry things so far. Director/co-writer Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door) has concocted a lazy movie that gives us too little of what could be funny and way too much of what will never be funny. Johnson and Wayans, Jr. deserve so much better. Then again, they get it – on television, every week.

( 1/2 out of four)

Let's Be Cops is rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.