[Screen It]


(2014) (Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr.) (R)

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Action Comedy: Two L.A. losers find a lot of fun and self-worth in impersonating police officers, until they are targeted by a local crime syndicate.
Ryan (JAKE JOHNSON) and Justin (DAMON WAYANS JR.) are a couple of losers who moved from Ohio to Los Angeles together eight years ago and vowed to move back if they hadn't "made it big" by the time they are 30. Ryan is a former college quarterback whose pro career never got started due to an injury. He has failed to make it as an actor, having only found work in a herpes commercial. Justin, meanwhile, dreams of designing the next great video game. But so far, all he has really excelled at the gaming company he works for is taking notes during meetings.

One night, the two downtrodden thirty-year-olds attend a masquerade party dressed as cops. While walking the streets afterwards, they are shocked at the looks attractive women give them, the space even the toughest strangers give them, and the good feelings they get just by being fake law enforcement officers. Justin even impresses the pretty waitress, Josie (NINA DOBREV), he has always liked. But Ryan can't help himself. He also sees an opportunity to get back at the goons who hit his car and then drove away without exchanging insurance information.

Unfortunately, those guys are enforcers for a local crime boss, Mossi (JAMES D'ARCY), and the crooked cop Brolin (ANDY GARCIA) who is the brains behind the syndicate. Ryan and Justin try and enlist an actual cop named Segars (ROB RIGGLE), who won't believe otherwise that they are deep undercover, and a crazy hoodlum named Pupa (KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY). But nothing can stop an inevitable clash with Brolin, Mossi, and their henchmen.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press, we provide only a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

It's a bad idea to impersonate a cop. And, as it turns out, it's a REALLY bad idea to make a movie about impersonating cops! "Let's Be Cops" tries earnestly to be the launch of the next great buddy movie franchise, but there is a certain desperation to the comedy here. Jake Johnson, who looks like Johnny Knoxville's better-looking cousin, and Damon Wayans Jr., who looks like ... well, Damon Wayans' son, star as a couple of losers who vowed to make it big in Los Angeles by the time they turned 30 or move back to Ohio. Well, they've both hit the big 3-0 and Johnson's Ryan is a failed actor having only appeared in a herpes commercial, and Wayans Jr.'s Justin is a put-upon employee of a video-game company.

Having dressed as police officers for a costume party, Ryan and Justin are shocked when walking down the street they draw the eye of many attractive ladies. They also cackle with delight when random strangers give them space. Ryan even sees an opportunity to dispense some justice when he happens upon the tough guys who hit his car and sped off without exchanging insurance information. Unfortunately, the goons are tied to a couple of local crime bosses (Andy Garcia and James D'Arcy) ready and eager to launch a war with these "cops."

"Let's Be Cops" tries to capture some of that "Jump Street" lightning that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill so effortlessly harnessed. It's clear the two leads have some chemistry and enjoy playing off each other. What's missing? Genuine laughs. The script for this botches numerous opportunities for comic payoffs and the banter is too often crass and inane. Director Luke Greenfield also botches the crime angle by making the bad guys too sinister. These are stone-cold serious dudes who want to do serious harm to the two lead zeroes ... er, heroes. Even worse, the only way this movie is even allowed to go past the 30-minute mark is that it has to make them even dimmer than the two dimwit leads. Ugh. Put this one in cuffs. I'm calling it in as a 3.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed August 12, 2014 / Posted August 13, 2014

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